Jay and Lisa Olson of Chili, Wisconsin are the parents of four children. They both work at the medical complex in Marshfield, and have done so for a combined total of 26 years. Words like diabetes, trauma, and cancer are common in their workplace. But the words they heard on July 11, 2005 will forever be etched in their memory - Your son has a brain tumor.
The Olsons brought their 9-year-old son Brennen to Marshfield Clinic with a headache, dizziness, and sore neck. The physician did an examination. After a CT scan and other testing, it was determined he had a cancerous brain tumor called medulloblastoma.
Two days later Brennen was scheduled for surgery. In the waiting room, Brennen played a video game while his parents thought about the other families that were enjoying summer vacation. They watched as their son was wheeled back to the operating room for brain surgery. His surgery took about nine hours. "It was terrifying," remembers Lisa. "But when the surgeon announced that the tumor was successfully removed, it was an overwhelming relief."
Brennen spent the next two weeks in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, and a few more days on the Pediatric Unit. When Brennen was finally able to go home, he had problems with balance and needed help getting up and walking. With physical and occupational therapy this greatly improved. Within two years he was back to doing everything he could do before the surgery, except football - no contact sports.
Over the next year he received six weeks of daily radiation and a year of chemotherapy.
In October 2006 Brennen finished his last round of chemo. Now nearly six years later, he is a freshman at Marshfield High School. He is a happy, healthy young man who loves dirt bike riding, video games, golf and downhill skiing. He has three sisters - Hannah, Madelyn and Emma.
Brennen has an MRI every year to monitor that the tumor has not returned.
"We realize how truly blessed we are every time we watch him run in a cross country meet," said Lisa. "He has come so far from the day he was diagnosed. How differently things could have turned out."
"Don't ever take anything for granted," said Jay. "In a split second it can all change.
A miracle can be something as simple as coming home to our four healthy, happy, laughing, playing and fighting kids."
Miracle is a word the Olsons love to hear.