Warriors Help Ava Fight Rare Tumor
By Pat Szpekowski, Observer Correspondent
April 27, 2017

BATAVIA—Ava Georgia Olson, 9, a student at Holy Cross School here, loves sports and is a big fan of the Chicago Cubs.

She and her mother Jodi, her father Ken, and brother Max, 11, enjoyed the thrill of the team’s first World Series Championship since 1908.

But the day after their team’s victory last Nov. 3, Ava’s life — but not her fighting spirit — completely changed.

That was the day when she was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive brain tumor called diffuse intrinsic pontina gliona (DIPG).

DIPG affects children almost exclusively, and approximately 200-400 children in the United States are diagnosed each year.

“Our life has completely changed,” said Ken Olson, a chiropractic physician.

“Every day we say to ourselves, ‘What is God asking us to do?’ instead of saying, ‘Why us?’

“Since that day, we have been overwhelmed with the love and support from our faith community at Holy Cross,” he added. “We have received many prayer cards and notes from all over the world. Our pastor, Father (James) Parker, distributed over 10,000 prayer cards in support of Ava.”
Prayers — from everyone — are important, Ken said.

“My good friend Father Keith Romke, the Diocese of Rockford director of vocations, was with us when we received the diagnosis.

“He fired us up to pray to Blessed Chiara Badano who needs one more miracle to have full consideration to be canonized as a saint. Through our prayers, let us make that miracle Ava.”  (See box, below left.)

As Ava’s Warriors, area Catholic schools, parishes, families and friends have rallied behind the Olsons to hold a variety of fundraisers. A 5K walk/run and local restaurant benefits are among the efforts.

These will help the family with the burden of Ava’s health care costs, which are not covered by insurance.

Due to FDA regulations, treatment is not available in the United States. It is costly, out-of-pocket, but can be done with the generous support of others.

Six weeks ago the family traveled to London, England, where Ava underwent a pioneering Convection Enhanced Delivery (CED) 9.5-hour operation to fit four precision catheters near the tumor and administer chemotherapy drugs.

“We carefully researched every option and clinical trials and have taken charge,” says Ken. “This is our hope and priority. God has given us this cross in our lives.”

The Olson’s expect to travel every six weeks back to London for the next six months, remaining a week each time for Ava’s care.

“Friends have said to us that perhaps God gave us Ava because we are the people who can give her the exact care she needs,” said Ken. “So many people have helped, giving us great peace through prayers and financial support.”