Young Girl with a Big Heart

Olivia Ohlson presents a check to Douglas Merkel, MD, an oncologist at Kellogg Cancer Center

Inspired by her mother's ongoing battle with breast cancer, a 10-year-old Evanston girl has been holding cookie and lemonade sales outside her home to raise money for breast cancer treatment and research. And, not surprisingly, she wants to be a doctor when she grows up.

Olivia Ohlson has raised more than $5,600 so far—and she intends to continue her efforts when the weather breaks in the Spring. “I hope that the money raised helps breast cancer patients, but if it’s used to fund breast cancer research, that's good, too,” she said.

Olivia's mother, Gini, is currently being treated for breast cancer at NorthShore. All proceeds from the bake sales benefit the NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center. Her efforts have received media attention, including local and national stories by ABC News.

Olivia recently completed a Saturday course through Northwestern’s Center for Talent Development in Biomedical Engineering. “In these classes, we worked on developing prosthetic limbs, but I also started the design process this summer for coming up with better drains to use after surgery. I started sketching better drain options after my mom had trouble with her drains.“

“I want to be a biomedical engineer and MD,” said Olivia. ”My dream is to experiment with different types of medicine and change people's lives for the better.” Her work to date has not gone unnoticed.

"My colleagues and I here at the Kellogg Cancer Center are so appreciative of Olivia's efforts to help our patients with breast cancer," said Bruce Brockstein, MD, a medical oncologist and the Center's Director. "I hope that her efforts inspire others of all ages to support those who are going through cancer treatment, and to think about careers in the biomedical professions. As a fellow engineer and physician, I applaud her and look forward to watching her career unfold."

If you would like to support Olivia’s efforts on behalf of breast cancer patients, visit For more information on how you can make a difference to support a cause important to you, visit or contact Elaine Van Dusen at or 847.926.5003.

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