Central Ohio family puts faith over fear as daughter battles rare brain cancer

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Faith over fear.

Those are the words a central Ohio family lives by each day after learning their daughter Olivia was diagnosed with a rare, inoperable brain tumor.

Now they’re turning their fear into hope as they try and help other families with children battling cancer.

“We’re super grateful that she’s such a rockstar because I think a lot of our strength really comes from her,” said Shannon Routte, Olivia’s mother.

It’s a strength Shannon and Justin Routte never knew they possess before their world changed in the spring of 2020.

“We started noticing her eye was crossing, her balance started to kind of be off, she started stumbling a lot, more than just normal clumsy for a child,” Shannon Routte said.

Doctors diagnosed five-year-old Olivia with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or more commonly known as DIPG, a rare brain tumor in a location too risky to try to remove through surgery.

“It’s called the Ponds, the spot in the brain where it is is what is affecting your, like, your eating, your breathing, your mobility, so walking and talking,” Shannon Routte said.

The Routte family said most children with this cancer diagnosis are given just months to live.

“There’s really no consistencies because it’s such a rare disease,” said Justin Routte, Olivia’s father.

But Olivia immediately started radiation treatment, and this family of five believes in hope, hope for Olivia’s future, and hope to find a cure.

“Just because, you know, that’s your statistic, that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where you’re going to end up and the best way to go about it is with hope,” Shannon Routte said.

Shannon and Justin started the Olivia Strong Foundation to raise awareness for children diagnosed with DIPG and create a community of support.

“And then to also raise funding towards research for DIPG trials because that’s what you’re trying to do, is essentially find a clinical trial that’s going to be the cure,” Shannon Routte said.

And they live in hope as they stay strong for Olivia and her battle against cancer.

“And making sure that we’re just making memories and doing a lot of fun things right now as a family,” Shannon Routte said.

The Olivia Strong Foundation held its first event this weekend – a yoga class called Flo for a Cure since Olivia loves taking children’s yoga classes. She’s heading into the first grade and she keeps the family positive each day with her smile and her laugh.

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