Happy tears | News, Sports, Jobs

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert

Kathy Olson cries “happy tears” as her daughter, Laura Sanchez, drives her to her newly renovated bedroom from My Happy Haven on Sunday.

Kathy Olson cried as she watched her bedroom from a wheelchair in the hallway.

The tears weren’t sad though, she assured her granddaughter, who looked at her with concern.

“These are happy tears,” Olson said.

Olson of Fort Dodge saw her newly remodeled bedroom for the first time Sunday afternoon. She was the recipient of a bedroom makeover from My Happy Haven – Fort Dodge.

My Happy Haven is an organization based in Mason City that raises funds and volunteers to create a “happy haven” for women battling cancer. Cancer treatments can be exhausting, painful and challenging, so the organization wants to give these women a comfortable place to recover and recover.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert

Fort Dodge’s My Happy Haven recently gave a bedroom makeover to Fort Dodge acute myeloid leukemia survivor Kathy Olson. Olson’s new bedroom was unveiled Sunday, where she was surrounded by her three children and many grandchildren.

Olson was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in December 2020. One of her four brothers was a perfect match for a stem cell donation, so she got a stem cell transplant in May. According to Olson’s daughter, Laura Sanchez, Olson has been in remission ever since.

Sanchez learned about My Happy Haven when family friend Judy Van Alstine received a bedroom makeover from the organization last fall, and decided to nominate her mother earlier this year.

“I think everyone wants to give their mother the whole world and then some,” Sanchez said.

After Olson was nominated, My Happy Haven volunteers began collecting donors and more volunteers for the project. Paula Ayala designed the room. Dozens of community members stepped up to donate money to help reach the $3,000 goal to cover the cost of the project.

The room’s makeover included new drywall by Trevino Drywall, new floors by Doyle Construction, new furniture, and more.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert

On Kathy Olson’s nightstand is a framed wedding photo of her and her late husband, Dennis “Dodger Denny” Olson.

Sunday afternoon was the unveiling of Olson’s new room.

Her three children and seven grandchildren gathered for the big day. Having everyone around was “great,” Olson said.

“I just started crying,” Olson said after seeing the room for the first time. “It is so nice.”

It’s been a rough few years for Olson. In July 2018, she lost her 36-year-old husband Dennis “Dodger Denny” Olson. And then a week before Christmas in 2020, she was diagnosed with cancer.

“I think it’s mostly overwhelming because of the community support when my father died, and now it’s for her,” Sanchez said.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert

Kathy Olson holds her granddaughter, Ivyleiss Sanchez, while granddaughter Maeleah Sanchez looks on after the big reveal of Olson’s bedroom makeover on Sunday.

It will be a while before Kathy Olson can enjoy her newfound haven as she is currently recovering with skilled nursing care at Friendship Haven after sustaining two broken ankles earlier this summer. But with this new room she has something to look forward to when she gets to go home.

“I just really appreciate the community,” Kathy Olson said. “I have no words to express their kindness.”

Kari Swisher, of Fort Dodge, is the director of My Happy Haven – Fort Dodge. The organization always accepts nominations and applications, she said.

For more information, visit the My Happy Haven — Fort Dodge website at https://myhappyhavenmc.com/fort-dodge/.

The next reveal of the My Happy Haven – Fort Dodge room will be in September, Swisher said.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert

Kathy Olson, of Fort Dodge, got a bedroom makeover from Fort Dodge’s My Happy Haven this past week. Olson, an acute myeloid leukemia survivor, first saw the room on Sunday.

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