Father Gives Daughter Gift of Life, Three Times
By Jami Brinton, Reporter
IOWA CITY - Olivia Kellicut, 11, is grateful her dad's given her the gift of life, three times over.
"I'm very thankful that I'm here to be in that position," said David Kellicut, Olivia's father.
David Kellicut and his daughter Olivia have an extra special father-daughter bond.
"We've grown so close obviously closer than what we would normally be had cancer not been part of our lives," said David Kellicut.
Olivia's battled cancer for six years. The diagnosis surprised everyone.
"She'd always been so healthy and wasn't a child who'd had colds or ear infections like that so it was quite the shock," said Roberta Ogden-Kellicut, Olivia's mother.
Olivia started treatments to kill the cancer, but they didn't work. The disease came back. So doctors recommended a bone marrow transplant, a procedure they hoped would rid Olivia's body of cancer.
"Okay, we've had this ace up our sleeves for a few months now I guess it's time to play it," said David.
Doctors began searching for a match. Testing determined Olivia's father to be a perfect donor.
"For a parent and a child to be that closely matched is astronomical," David said.
Though concerned about how the transplant could potentially affect his own health, David pushed those fears aside.
"I would walk through fire for my daughter," he said.
Minutes into the procedure, David knew he'd done the right thing.
For a while, it seemed that the transplant worked. Then, in 2009, the cancer returned for a third time.
"Just because you've beat it and you've come this far, the reality is that it can come back. And it did," said Roberta.
Even Olivia knows that she might not beat it.
"It kind of makes me feel scared," Olivia said.
So Olivia keeps fighting, finding comfort in doing things she loves... like going to school, playing with her pets and making sure her special friends are by her side when times are scary.
"I usually always take Sarah and Scruffy," said Olivia.
They'll be with her as she undergoes a stem cell transplant this month. Again, her dad will be the donor.
"Not only give your daughter life once, but twice and now potentially a third time," said David.
Though Olivia's not sure if this new transplant will heal her, she's grateful her dad will give her another chance at life.
"I tell him thanks and that I love him a lot for doing that," Olivia.
Olivia's parents say they're relying on prayer and the support of family and friends to help them encourage Olivia to overcome cancer a fourth time.