Olivia posing for a photograph

In loving memory of Olivia Downie

Olivia was born on Christmas Eve in 2004. A much longed-for first child for Lauren and Steven, Olivia reached all of her developmental milestones before her parents began to notice that she was limping and had a series of back pains along with fatigue.

At only four years old, Olivia was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, a particularly aggressive childhood cancer.

Olivia received the general protocol of treatment for neuroblastoma at that time from the NHS at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital and Glasgow’s Yorkhill Hospital. This included high dose chemotherapy, surgery, radiation and further chemotherapy due to the tumours’ remaining presence.

Once the tumours had gone, Olivia’s parents took her to Germany to receive immunotherapy treatment which was not yet available in the UK at that time. Sadly, whilst receiving the 5th cycle of immunotherapy, the clinicians in Germany discovered that Olivia had relapsed in her ribs. This brought that particular treatment to an end.

Olivia started another German treatment called RIST therapy; another form of chemotherapy. This was a tough regime for Olivia and meant that she was often hospitalised due to side effects and infections. It helped her for several months by shrinking the tumours, but soon they spread meaning this treatment option also had to be brought to an end.

Lauren says: “It broke our hearts to see her suffer so much. We decided to look at holistic therapies in an attempt to better Olivia’s quality of life.”

By March 2012, scans revealed that Olivia’s disease had spread extensively throughout the spine, ribs and pelvis area, including the shoulder blade. Steven and Lauren continued giving Olivia photodynamic therapy every day along with ultrasound treatment, infra-red sauna and a range of vitamins.

Doctors told the family that Olivia could never be cured but Lauren says: “We refused to focus on this and tried not to give up on our little princess, whom we worshipped.”

In May 2012, Olivia’s health deteriorated and she was confined to a bed in seemingly uncontrollable pain. With funds raised through another neuroblastoma charity at that time, Lauren and Steven flew to Mexico with Olivia and her younger sister Jessica in June 2012. For Olivia’s parents, their focus was to do all they could to reduce Olivia’s severe pain and to give her a more comfortable and controlled quality of life. Complications during the treatment in Mexico saw the family facing a flight home with Olivia on life support.

Members of the public, so moved by Olivia’s story, donated funds to Olivia’s other charity to enable her to fly home on life support. She passed away with her family by her side on 29th June 2012.

Losing Olivia has shattered the family, they will love and miss her forever.

Lauren says, “Olivia was a bright-eyed, cheeky, witty little diva with a cracking sense of humour and a look that could kill. She was always very determined. Olivia was a gadget geek and tomboy when it came to games and playing. She loved rough and tumble games with her dad Steven and was a daddy’s girl. If anything was wrong or anyone needed sorting out she would turn to me. Olivia had the look of her dad but my temperament.”

Olivia has a little sister Jessica and younger brothers, Oliver and Jakob. While the family try the very best they can after such trauma, Lauren and Steven say “things will never feel the same again”.