FARGO — Mara Olson's team is usually in the pool, but now it's in the hospital.
The 17-year-old swimmer was diagnosed with leukemia in October 2020.
"I couldn't believe it. At first, it took me about, say, a couple of weeks ... for it to finally set in," she said.
"It's not what they're expecting when they go in to get checked out. Because the symptoms can be similar to the flu or mono or some other kind of virus, " said Dr. Sam Milanovich, a pediatric oncologist at Sanford Health.
Olson hasn't been able to see friends or extended family, but her parents are there at her side.
Her dad, a professor at M-State, is taking time off to be with her.
"It was a godsend that somebody knew that we we needed to be here, and I needed to be on sabbatical," said Olson's father, David Olson.
"It's been hard on all of us, because we just haven't seen our family like we normally would, or they haven't come and but we Facetime and whatever we can," said Celeste Olson, Mara's mother.
Her team is now made up of doctors and nurses at Roger Maris Cancer Center, where she can spend up to 8 hours every day with chemotherapy, spinal taps, PT and OT.
"They're like a family to us. It's been amazing," said Mara Olson. She's felt "emotional, emotional, but grateful and so thankful."
They've helped her get a little stronger every day.
This month, Mara got behind the wheel and drove for the first time since October 2020.
"It's been awesome. I love it. Being able to go back to my normal self a little bit, it's been very eye opening," Mara Olson said.
And she's excited for the future, hoping to go to college to be a surgical tech at M-State after she graduates from Fargo Davies High School next year.
"She's stronger than probably both of us put together," Celeste Olson said.