Caroline’s Courage: A survivor’s story

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If you go to an Oklahoma State University football or basketball game this year or watch them on TV, chances are you will see the pom squad cheering for the Cowboys.

One of the girls is Caroline Edelmaier from The Woodlands in Texas.

Caroline’s family has a long history of family alumni from OSU.

She is a 5-foot 1, 112-pound dynamo with unlimited energy and personality.

But, she tempers all of that enthusiasm with a "take life one day at a time” kind of an attitude.

“I’m a go with the flow kinda’ person. I'm really not uptight at all,” Caroline said, laughingly.

And, she knows something about the old adage to “stop and smell the roses."

She knows how important it is to enjoy every day of life.

Because, she almost lost her life at a very tender age.

When Caroline was just two years old, she suddenly began developing bruises, didn’t feel well and was very pale.

Her mother took her to the doctor.

"The doctor called me back and said, 'You need to take her to Texas Children’s,'" said Caroline’s mother, Melanie Edelmaier. “Because, I fear it's leukemia.”

And, it was.

So, for years, Caroline’s parents took her on what seemed like endless trips to the hospital for treatment and rushed her there for emergency care when any fever would suddenly race through her little body.

“She spent a month in the hospital with pneumonia - really low blood counts, so that was kind of scary,” Melanie said.  “And, there were kids who didn’t make it while we were there, which scared me."

But, what kept them going was their little girls’ incredible spirit.

Her smile and cheer lit up the hospital room for everyone.

"Sharing stories with other parents, we had it so easy because Caroline never fought when we gave her meds,” said Caroline's father, Dave Edelmaier. “She was always happy. The hospital had a playroom, and she was the party there."

Two and half years later, Caroline was over the worst of it.

“She’s kind of a model poster child for a survivor," Melanie said. "She's been very fortunate."

Then, her mom introduced Caroline to dance, and it has become a life-long passion for her.

That has led to dance competitions and to pom teams in junior high and high school.

And, now, to  OSU pom.

“I love football especially," Caroline said.  “So, it’s really cool to be down on the field. It’s so cool to be up close and personal with the game. There's only 15 of us on the team. It's so small. It's so exclusive. It's definitely an honor."

It’s an emotional realization for Caroline to think about how far she has come since dealing with cancer.

“I think it makes me have a different perspective on life -  just knowing that I’ve overcome something like that,'” Caroline said, tearfully.

And, because she has been helped by so many health professionals, she wants to become one, too.

That’s why she’s majoring in therapeutic recreation.

“Helping people with disabilities, from mental illness to all sorts of different stuff,” Caroline said.  “Getting them back into everyday life."

Everyday life - a blessing Caroline will never take for granted as she cheers on her team and her future.

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