Hope Over Despair: Mariah Olson, Neuroblastoma Survivor

Mariah Olson was diagnosed in 1980 with neuroblastoma at the age of one year, and is a living testament as a survivor to the  difficulties that so many children with cancer endure as a result of toxic, out-dated treatments they receive.  She also attests to the pycho-social challenges of growing up with severe medical issues which affect children with cancer. 

Most importantly, she is a testament to the power of hope and positivity amid these challenges which are generally the source of despair and great suffering.  In the face of it all, she is a champion for other young people afflicted with cancer; she works for nine non-profit childhood cancer organizations and advocates for others at both the state and national level.  She also triumphs as an oboist with several musical ensembles and is happily married.  We are blessed to share conversation with this outstanding advocate with such generosity of heart, and look forward to the publishing of her autobiography, "Hope Over Despair." 

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About Janet


Blessed with varied interests and an artistic and musical upbringing, Janet had health challenges throughout her young adult life. Despite these she graduated Cum Laude from Wellesley College with an award of distinction for acting, and had also been a champion equestrian. She began a family with her husband Barry later in life, and had finally found happiness with daughter Sophie-Marie (3/12/06) and then baby (Jack 8/30/08). Five weeks after his birth, the family escaped a wildfire in which all worldly possessions were lost. The family relocated in December of 2008 to Agua Dulce CA where they currently reside.

Jack began to have unsettling symptoms at the age of 3; he was taken to Children's Hospital Los Angeles and was diagnosed with DIPG, or diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, on Friday Oct. 28, 2011, indisputably the darkest experience of Janet's life. The outrage of it made her determined to find the good in the situation, and she asked God to "Put me to work!" After Jack's death, she remained determined to start working to find solutions to DIPG and incorporated Jack's Angels at the end of 2012; the Foundation began its work in 2013. Despite the fact that DIPG is responsible for the majority of brain tumor deaths in children, she had been told there were no solutions for Jack because "the numbers aren't great enough for investors." This remains the primary motivation in her advocacy work, to prioritize children's lives in our medical system in the United States.