Molly Oldham is an 18 year old from Akron who was less than a week away from leaving Ohio to start her freshman year at the University of North Carolina Greensboro as one of 7 Musical Theater Majors in a very competitive field of study.
Since February, she had suffered migraines and nausea that continued to worsen at each episode. Different migraine treatments by various doctors didn’t work, culminating in a trip to the ER on Aug 5th. After given a “migraine cocktail” and officially diagnosed with migraines, she was sent home to rest. She sat on the couch asking if we saw the cars rushing by or the sharp pitched sounds, none of which anyone saw or heard. She then slept for 40 hours straight. When awoken, she could not remember simple things, to the point her phone was not only locked from an incorrect passcode, but it was permanently disabled from so many tries. That was the final indication to take her back to the ER, on Wednesday Aug 7th, regardless of being sent home 2 days prior.
Immediately she was given a CT scan where they found a tennis ball size tumor in her brain. Within minutes, we were met with Neurosurgeons and specialists who informed us that she would be undergoing surgery as soon as they could. On Friday Aug 9th, a team of neurosurgeons performed a successful 6 hour surgery to remove the tumor. They were able to remove the entire tumor. We were told most likely a tumor this size would be benign but pathology would come back in 2-3 weeks to be sure. We started recovery very hopeful that her biggest challenges were behind us.
One hour after surgery, we were able to see her in the recovery room. She asked for music and her sister turned on Dear Evan Hansen. Immediately Molly sang along. Here is the video : https://youtu.be/3NrinLOigIs
The next morning, the nurses requested that a harpist be sent in to her room as they heard she enjoyed music. Again, she sang along. https://youtu.be/_MH1IoqI__I
Music became one of the most important parts of her recovery in the hospital. When she asked the doctors when she would be able to dance again, they told her she needed to walk first. That night, a few days before official physical therapy would start, she got up and asked to try to walk. She was able to walk down the hall and back with help. It was a great surprise to all! https://youtu.be/kLw4K4NeAD8
Molly was lifted in so much support and prayer from family, friends, hospital staff, acquaintances and strangers, that recovery was not only for herself, but she was determined to be strong for all of us. Her sisters and friends sat bedside with her every day she was in the hospital. She had visitors from the minute she woke up until she fell asleep, and that love propelled her spirit. Friends came to laugh with her, hold her hand, sing with her. Although she may not remember every conversation or visit, rest assured every single visit motivated her to get stronger and work harder to get home.
The morning of August 15th, Molly got physically ill, the first time since we were in the ER. The doctors called for an emergency MRI. Although nothing abnormal was found, the head Neurosurgeon decided to rush the Pathology reports. Within hours, the oncologists were sitting at the end of her bed. Molly was diagnosed with Stage 3, Anaplastic Ependymoma. A rare brain cancer that is diagnosed in 150 cases in her age group a year, 300 total nationwide each year. She would face continuing treatments that would include Radiation. Molly’s strength and grace was captured by her own Instagram message to her friends, so she only had to describe it once to everyone. Here is her post : https://youtu.be/ww03yX67Y7A
The doctors felt it was in her best interest to go home. She would continue weeks of Intenstive Physical and Occupational and speech Therapy in an amazing Outpatient program which she has loved. At the end of the day, she can come home and sleep in her own bed.
This week, 3 weeks after surgery, Molly has met with several doctors and has chosen to go with the Proton Radiation Therapy at University Hospitals in Cleveland. As we await some more shrinkage of the Tumor Bed that will be radiated, the expected start date for the 6 week daily radiation sessions is Sept 16th. She expected to tolerate the treatment well, with the normal fatigue and hair loss one may expect.
She will continue her physical therapies at Akron Childrens as well as attend TriC as an online student so that she is strong enough to attend UNCG second semester without skipping too many beats.
We are blessed that her musical friends are planning a Caberet performance at the Akron Civic Theater on Sept 20th with headliner Broadway favorite Natalie Weiss ❤️ Molly is preparing herself to sing as well!
Since her phone was permently disabled, she lost all her photos and videos from her recent NYC trip and Broadway debut. One of her favorite things has been getting motivational videos from Musicians and Performers. People have been so generous with their time and well wishes and these messages are something she will never forget. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to personal contacts to make this happen.
We thank every single person who has reached out to support and love Molly and our family. We don’t know how we would be where we are without you all.
Thank you to Hayden Cory and The Collin Cares Foundation for all the support. Thank you for helping make Molly’s vision of her #themightymolly shirt a reality. We love you.
There isn’t room in her head for cancer anymore, because her mind and heart have nothing but love and music overflowing.