Olsen family "deliriously happy" as daughter Jane beats cancer

Ringing the remission bell: Angus and Rachel Olsen with Jane and one of her doctors, Professor Stewart Kellie, from Westmead Children’s Hospital.
Ringing the remission bell: Angus and Rachel Olsen with Jane and one of her doctors, Professor Stewart Kellie, from Westmead Children’s Hospital.

Angus Olsen is “deliriously happy” his four-year-old daughter is cured of cancer and he wants to thank the community of Katoomba “who bled with her”.

Fighter: Jane Olsen of Katoomba has come through her 18 month battle with cancer.

Fighter: Jane Olsen of Katoomba has come through her 18 month battle with cancer.

Last year, Jane was facing an uphill battle against cancer after being diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma or “rhabdo” at age two.

Rhabdo is a cancerous tumor that develops in the body's soft tissues, usually the muscles. It was a cancer that her Dad said “tried to kill her many times”.

But after a year of chemotherapy, surgery and a dangerous eight hour experimental procedure in May she’s been in “full remission”.

Only eight children in Australia have had the procedure, which involves continuously flushing chemotherapy in and out of the body – the doctor involved went to America to reacquaint himself with the procedure and a machine was flown up from Melbourne to do it. 

“Jane’s surgery and experimental procedure for a cancer that tried to kill her multiple times didn’t just go well, it exceeded all expectations,” Angus said. “They got it all – a 700 gram mass.

“Her recovery has left oncology dumbfounded. Last week she received the all clear ... and officially rang the remission bell, she has flourished and has excellent odds for living the rest of her life uninterrupted by rhabdomyosarcoma.”

Angus said it was “won on the shoulders of our community... She is in full remission, her central line was surgically removed on Tuesday. I can barely believe it.”

The Mountains community dug deep for Angus and Rachel Olsen and their two daughters, Jane and Holly. Struggling to manage their popular little kiosk, CafeXpresso, at Katoomba station, while coping with the rounds of emergency medical care, the community donated about $30,000 and delivered meals and toys to help out, while medicos fought to save Jane’s life.

The Olsens made particular mention of their families, staff at Katoomba Hospital who picked up the illness, and the ongoing care at Westmead Children’s Hospital. The Peraltas at Gallery 188 and Emma Argall who organised a fundraiser were also given a special mention. 

“The community has been fantastic. They bled with Jane. I would be away for a few days [from the kiosk while Jane had treatment] and when I got back there were cards [of well wishes] spilling out from under the kiosk door.”

This Christmas the family is looking forward to “a quiet day”. Last year they left Westmead after Jane’s chemo and stopped in to Myer, Penrith, so the girls could have their photos with Santa.

“Everybody stared, she was clearly very sick,” Rachel said. “This year we just want to be normal.”