María José Pagliere, Olivia’s mother.
Fundación María Cecilia de Ayuda al Niño Oncológico. (Argentina)
I remember when my daughter, Olivia, received her first dose of chemotherapy, she stopped doing the things she usually did or liked. She painted and drew a lot and that stopped overnight. She took a lot of refuge in music. She would put on her headphones and be transported elsewhere. She watched a lot of television but wanted to do it with me by her side. I would say she didn’t want to do anything if I wasn’t with her.
She was 11 when she started, and I had to walk her to the bathroom and even sleep in her bed. She also wanted toys or things that were from when she was younger. We recovered dolls and other almost childish games for her age. Us -my husband, my other son and I- decided to stand by her side in all these changes, without judgement. That gave her a lot of peace and for us it was essential that she felt safe and calm.
Everything changed for me too… I didn’t want to get away from her. The first time I went out to see my friends, I couldn’t wait to get back home to be with Oli.
Everything I did during my ordinary day went to the background. All I wanted was to be with her. And together we wanted to be quiet or listening to music without having to talk.
From there on out, I did not leave her side again. Everything I did during my ordinary day went to the background. All I wanted was to be with her. And together we wanted to be quiet or listening to music without having to talk.
I also started to feel overwhelmed if I was in a place with many people, if they talked to me a lot or if they were laughing. I could only laugh with her or my other son.
Another thing I remember I couldn’t do during treatment and for a while afterwards was listening to the news or reading the diary.
It wasn’t that I was angry or in a bad mood. In fact, people didn’t realize it. I looked very calm and felt strong and optimistic. I often found myself having to reassure my family or friends.
I didn’t want her to see me sad. Nor crying. Of course, I was devastated and many times I cried on my own, but to her I was all peace and safety.
I didn’t want Oli to have any doubt that what was going on was going to end well, that she was going to heal and that soon we would all be laughing again.
Today, looking back, I think I did it because I didn’t want Oli to have any doubt that what was going on was going to end well, that she was going to heal and that soon we would all be laughing again.
And if I looked bad, how could I convince her that everything would be okay? It wasn’t something I set out to do, it just came out this way.
For my husband it was different. He could hardly move while everything lasted; he was totally blocked.
It was hard as a couple, but we were able to slow down, think and realize that people can tell you a lot of things, give you the best advice with all the love in the world. However, everyone lives it differently and does the best they can with the indescribable pain it means to see a child go through something so hard.
After a while, everything settles back, never the same as before, but one laughs and enjoys themselves again, valuing life and people much more.