AKRON, Ohio – Molly Oldham, 18, has been performing since the age of five when she first appeared in a production of the musical ‘Oklahoma.’
She says she knew immediately it was her life’s calling.
Throughout high school at Revere High in Richfield, she performed in show choir, competitions, musicals and in a band.
She was one of seven candidates accepted into a Theater Arts program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
“When I’m sad I want to sing and when I’m happy all I want to do is sing. W hen I’m confused I just want to perform,” said Oldham.
But in February she started feeling ill.
“I was in ETC show choir, competitive. We did a sixteen-minute set and it’s singing and dancing for the whole sixteen minutes consecutively. There are two shows a day so after preliminaries, I passed out and I was vomiting everywhere and I was not feeling great.”
Oldham says over the following weeks she continued to experience the symptoms which she, and her family, believed were migraine headaches.
But in July, while she was performing with her band at Lock 3 in Akron, she said the symptoms became worse.
“I had the worst migraine I ever had and after I got offstage I just sat in the dressing room and turned off the lights and just cried,” she said.
“I couldn’t eat, I wasnt’ hungry. I wasn’t being myself. I wasn’t doing any of my homework and I thought I was losing things. I couldn’t see I was sitting on the couch and things would like fly by be like cars and stuff and I would hear music that wasn’t there,” she told Fox 8 News.
“She’s always been positive she’s always been happy and she was snapping at us for no reason. She wasn’t responsible she wasn’t doing what she was supposed to so we knew something was wrong,” said her mother Bunny Oldham.
Molly went to Akron Children’s Hospital where doctors performed a scan and found a grade three tumor in her brain about the size of a tennis ball.
Doctor Erin Wright, a pediatric neurooncology specialist, tells Fox 8 News there is no way to know how long the tumor had been there.
Plans were immediately made for surgeons to remove it and within days she was in surgery.
What happened next is what has been inspiring to everyone who sees it.
The day after her surgery Molly was in her hospital bed singing, accompanied by a harpist.
Oldham says she doesn’t remember the moment, but she has seen the video that was taken by her mother.
“I watched that video and I cried because that’s the power of music not only on me but on life,” said Oldham, who admits prior to surgery she was afraid it might affect her memory.”
“Just the fact that I could remember (the song), I’m surprised I could walk,” she added.
Even having now been diagnosed with cancer, Oldham says she considers herself ‘lucky’ if for no other reason than doctors wasted no time removing the tumor.
But she has also been surrounded by a supportive family and friends.
“There’s no denying having a brain tumor sucks and I can’t change that and that’s ok but the amount of love and support and just the kind words saying I’m here for you if you need a hug, call me. I have friends who have been here every day who don’t live close, one of my best friends from Pittsburgh came,” said Oldham.
Dr. Wright says Oldham has six weeks of daily radiation therapy still ahead of her.
Oldham says among her supporters has been the college she was hoping to start attending on Friday, where they are holding her spot until she is well enough to attend.
“I’m going to be a performer and I’m not going to stop until I get there,” said Oldham.
“This girl has too much left in her to do for this world and to do for people around her that nothing bad is going to happen to her it is just not going to happen,” added her mother.