Skip to content
BACK to Stories

Keeping Olivia

Published on May 21, 2015 in Share Your Story

Keeping Olivia


I am a filmmmaker working on post production of my own story about my daughter Olivia and I. Olivia was a sunny little 5 year old girl who just happened to have a rare form of aggressive brain cancer. The day after finishing nine months of treatment, her father, Holger, died suddenly of cardiac arrest playing badminton. A family of five was now a family of four. Olivia, her mother Daphne, 9 year old sister Lilly and 11 year old brother Espen were in shock. In the next years Daphne and her children, doctors and friends gave all they could to help save Olivia but she passed away just after her ninth birthday. It was now a family of three.

Daphne, is traumatized from years of fighting cancer, Holger’s sudden death and Olivia’s slow death. These circumstances motivate her to embark on a unique journey documenting her own exploration of trauma. Daphne is constantly torn between the “trauma world” and the “normal world”, cultural clichés of how she should let go and move on feel forced. Daphne is overwhelmed by not knowing what to do with Olivia’s ashes so she gathers up over 50 of Olivia’s Barbies and starts a road trip from Las Vegas to Zion, Utah, in search of renewed hope and balance. Daphne creates an individual visceral vocabulary of processing loss. Despite confronting so much tragedy, Daphne’s approach to healing becomes more of a beautiful survival story rather than just a painful traumatic memory. The idea of letting go is turned upside down. In the darkest of times comes the brightest of lights.

We need to get this film out there so we can support parents who have to go though what we did as well as work on the fear in society that surrounds the cancer world. What we are afraid of we tend not to understand. It’s a beautiful film and remarkable journey to the heart of what it means to be alive – equal parts love and loss and grief and joy.

Much Love,


Opinions expressed within this story belong solely to the author and do not reflect the views or opinions of the National Brain Tumor Society.

Stay Informed & Connected