In 2001, at three years of age, Olivia was diagnosed with Pre-B Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. Within 2 days of her diagnosis, chemotherapy was begun at the hurried encouragement of her doctors at Children's Medical Center, Dallas, TX. Her doctors were hopeful that this type of Leukemia would be easy to cure. Olivia underwent chemo treatments for 1 month at which time we were told to expect her to go into remission since the typical cure rate was 85%. Unfortunately, after 1 month Olivia did not go into remission. Instead her prognosis became much worse. Her doctors insisted that she start a new chemo treatment immediately that would be much more aggressive. We were told that her chance of recovery was so minimal that her only hope was a bone marrow transplant with extensive pre-op medications and radiation treatments to properly prepare her body for the donor bone marrow. After 2 more chemo treatments, Olivia finally reached remission. Her doctors revealed that a bone marrow transplant would be extremely risky and her odds of survival would be very minimal.
Given those odds we opted to treat her homeopathically, at home in McKinney, Texas. Miraculously Olivia remained in remission for over 2 years without of any additional chemotherapy. However, in 2003 her leukemia returned. The doctors were amazed that Olivia survived and remained in remission throughout this period of time. Her new team of doctors at Medical City Children's Hospital, Dallas, TX agreed to treat her with limited chemotherapy and assisted us with developing a combined treatment plan of both traditional and non-traditional medications. For one more year Olivia stayed in remission. At the age of 6 she relapsed a 2nd time and we cautiously decided to allow Olivia to undergo a bone marrow transplant. Her brother Tyler was the donor. The transplant was very successful and Olivia was in remission again! And she remained in remission for nearly 5 years! During this time she was home schooled and eventually returned to McNeil Elementary and lived the life of a normal, cancer free girl. In July, 2009, just days before entering middle school, Olivia's Leukemia returned at a very aggressive rate. Several rounds of Chemotherapy followed and plans were made for another bone marrow transplant. This time the doctors would use her older sister Madison's marrow. Complications escalated and Olivia was placed in ICU with a terrible fungal pneumonia - the type of pneumonia that very few cancer patients are expected to survive. With the prayerful strength of the newly created "Olivia's Army" behind her she bravely fought her way through the critical pneumonia and she overcame 2 very serious life threatening episodes. Subsequent attempts to attain a full remission failed miserably and Olivia was sent home under hospice care in February, 2010. Her doctors, in Dallas, were convinced that further chemotherapy treatments would be intolerable and that any hopes of attaining another remission, followed by another successful transplant, were completely out of Olivia's reach. The final suggestion was to take her home and make her remaining days as comfortable as possible.
But the path the doctors chose for Olivia was not the same one that Olivia and her supportive family were willing to take. It was at this time that "Olivia's Army", with members located across the U.S., began a relentless pursuit for a pediatric cancer facility that would offer some hope of remission and ultimately a cure. After sending hundreds of emails and making dozens of phone calls to cancer centers across the country, her army was able to arrange for Olivia to be treated at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Children's Cancer Hospital, in Houston, TX.
Olivia and her family packed and left for Houston, over 250 miles away from their home, in McKinney. By March, 2010, Olivia found herself part of an MD Anderson treatment plan that focused on children with multiple relapses of leukemia. Her amazing response to their treatment put her into a successful remission followed by a stem cell transplant using cells from 2 different and unrelated frozen umbilical cords, one male, the other female.
The year 2010 was filled with terrible pain and suffering for Olivia. The stem cell transplant is considered a success since all bone marrow tests have shown no traces of leukemia. However, the unrelated cord blood has caused severe post transplant symptoms of Graph vs. Host Disease (GVHD). The GVHD attacks her skin, mouth, and stomach wall lining causing severe bleeding and blistering. She has many life long side effects as a result of the many years of steroid, chemotherapy and rediation treatments including drop foot (weakness in her ankles), cataracts in both eyes making it increasingly difficult to see, aches and limited mobility in her joints, lack of appetite and weight loss due to mouth and stomach pain. But Olivia is a fighter with many angels around her, providing her with an inner strength that few children or adults could claim. It has been a long difficult juggling act for the Jones family to provide lodging for the family in both McKinney and Houston. Since March 2010 they have lived in both cities. Olivia was finally allowed to return to McKinney for weekends only in January of 2011. Olivia's support comes primarily from her parents Joseph and Kandis, who continue to work in McKinney when not in Houston, and her 26 year old sister Katlin, who left her employer in August of 2009 to live with and care for Olivia. The rest of the Jones family, Tyler 21 is away at school at the Univ of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Madison 16 is a sophomore at MHS, and younger sister Isabel 10 is in 5th grade at McNeil Elementary.
In February of 2011, this beautiful little girl sadly lost her long battle to this terrible disease.
Read more about Olivia's life and her journey, click here.