By Danny Baggott @dan_baggie
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Videographer / director: Elie Khadra
Producer: Danny Baggott, James Thorne
Editor: Ian Phillips
Two-year-old, Olivia, was born with a lymphatic malformation that crosses her facial midline, reaches back towards her ear and up to her eyelid.
Affecting only one in every 4,000 births, lymphatic malformations produce a small mass in the head or neck after an abnormal formation of lymphatic vessels.
The Chicchon family, who reside in Lodi, California, has already experienced numerous health scares with Olivia; a bubbly girl who loves to sing and take ballet lessons with her friends.
And her parents, Ivan and Teresa Chicchon, are now anxiously waiting for ground-breaking treatment that could see Olivia’s swollen tumour shrink up to 50% in size.
Teresa, 32, told Barcroft TV: “Just recently, we said that we’re ready to move forward with Livie getting her treatment now.
“We met with her doctors and we haven’t arrived at a definite conclusion yet.
“We’re all ready for the next step. Livie is beautiful the way she is, she will always thrive no matter what.
“But at the same time, if there is treatment out there that’s going to help her, we’d rather do it now than wait and have it affect her more in the future.”
Ivan, also 32, said: “The doctors need an updated MRI and we can go from there, whether it be Sclerotherapy or a bigger surgery.
“The Sclerotherapy is more conventional, but it’s ground-breaking in the sense that they do everything guided through a needle and their aspirations.”
When Ivan and Teresa received an initial diagnosis, they were offered the chance to terminate Teresa’s pregnancy – with doctors predicting Olivia would have no quality of life going forward.
Ivan said: “The doctors just kind of abruptly told us that she had what is called a teratoma and that we should collect our thoughts and consider termination options.
“We really didn’t know if she would survive the birth.
“Luckily, we had a second opinion and doctors there said they had some crazy surgical procedure that would be able to deliver Olivia safely.
“Giving her a chance to be born, no guarantees she would survive, but just giving her that chance.”
Teresa added: “When she was born, I didn’t get to see her for almost 15 hours.
“But we all battled on and we got to bring our little girl home just before the Christmas of 2016, so that was one of the most amazing feeling ever.”
With experiencing so much, in so little time with Olivia, Ivan and Teresa are extremely thankful for their parents and siblings who supported them through the hardest of times.
“We have so much support, it’s unbelievable,” Teresa said.
“I don’t know how we would have got here without our parents.”
Ivan continued: “I mean we do our very best with Olivia, but there is a whole other aspect that the grandparents bring; you know, the sweets and the goodies that they spoil her with.
“They bring a great, new dimension to her life.”
The family run their own Instagram account, @liviesstory, where they like to raise awareness of her condition online and help other families who may be experiencing a similar journey.
Above all, Ivan and Teresa are most pleased with Livie’s personality and how she is developing.
Teresa said: “She loves ice-cream, she likes pizza and fruit. She pretty much likes everything – especially music.
“She’s just an amazing little girl, smart, beautiful, active – she brings so much joy to everybody who knows her.”
Olivia started ballet lessons at a local studio earlier this year, and her teacher, Ashley Trammell, has been taken back by Olivia’s level of confidence.
Ashley said: “Livie came to try some of the classes and she did really well. She took off from there.
“It was very surprising the first time she came in the class and not one student mentioned anything.
“Sometimes they will just say, ‘Oh what is that?’, but they go about the rest of their class and it doesn’t really affect them.
“To me, she is a normal two-year-old, she enjoys life and doesn’t let anything hold her back. She’s really amazed me.”
Ivan and Teresa are now faced with a bigger challenge in terms of shielding Olivia from other children making fun of her condition.
Ivan said: “She is now aware when kids say something and make fun. She knows what’s going on.
“So it’s becoming much more of a challenge.”
Teresa added: ‘When we go out in public, of course people stare. Adults, children – they stare because it’s different.
“I think it’s important to explain to other kids exactly what it is. There are kids that aggressively try and touch it and it’s like how do you react to that?”
Ivan and Teresa are now looking forward to Olivia’s future and the possible treatment that awaits her.
“I think she has the opportunity to have a wonderful life,” Ivan said.
“I want her to know that she’s beautiful and that it’s all okay. That’s the most important thing for me going forward.”
Teresa said: “Words can’t describe how proud I am of her. She is the strongest person I know.
“Being born different is okay, everyone is different and no one is perfect.
“Take your time to get to know people, because I can promise, they’re going to bring so much joy into your life.”