The very first thing everyone notices about Emme is her infectious giggle. Her laughter is given freely, and she jokes with everyone she meets as if they were good friends. She’s been known to break out in song spontaneously and doesn’t even care if she knows the words. She’s just happy to sing out loud and proud! “She just has a special spirit inside,” says mom Nicole. For this and many other reasons, Emme was honored as a 2013 CCA Hero.
A bit of Emme’s spirit is easy to recognize in her mother, Nicole. With Nicole’s bright personality and beaming smile, it’s hard not to feel happy around the duo. But both Emme and Nicole’s resolve was put to the test in 2009 when Emme was diagnosed with medulloblastoma. Nicole shares their story.
Facing Cancer Together
“Emme’s journey began September 3rd, 2009. It was days before school started and she went in for her routine eye exam. The eye doctor found pressure behind her eyes. We were sent to an eye specialist and then had an MRI. It was at that point Emme was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma, brain cancer.
I’ll never forget that moment, our lives forever changed.
Emme was immediately rushed to the hospital and prepared for emergency surgery. She had three brain surgeries in a matter of weeks to remove the tumor. She also suffered a stroke after the first surgery as well as a series of shunt malfunctions. We spent the next three months in the hospital.
Throughout those three months, Kacy [CCA’s Senior Program Manager and then head of the Chemo Pal Mentor Program] would come up and ask if there was anything she could help with and I always said, ‘No. We were fine.’ Eventually, Emme was released from the hospital, and it was time for her to start her radiation. She endured six weeks of radiation five times a week.
Again, Kacy would call or run into us at the hospital and ask if we needed anything. She also started talking about Emme having a Chemo Pal. I told Kacy, we would think about it. Our family was still in shock over all that had happened and continued to occur.
Light in A Difficult Time
Finally, one day while Emme was admitted into the hospital Kacy came yet again to us and asked about Emme having a Chemo Pal. It suddenly sounded like something that would be nice. You see, I never left her hospital room. But, I was thinking it might be good for Emme to have someone else to chat with. Maybe I could even go down the hall and get a cup of coffee!
The next thing we knew, there walked in Erica. She had a big purple CCA bag full of games, arts/crafts, movies, and toys. She made Emme laugh and smile. They watched videos together, played board games, made crafts and sometimes just talked. She came to all of Emme’s rounds of chemo and several of Emme’s clinic appointments. Not only was Emme now excited each time Erica came, but so was I!
During Erica’s visits, she helped both Emme and myself forget about cancer if only for a bit by bringing us laughter and fun. She brought us light in a difficult time.
I can never thank CCA enough for connecting Emme with Erica. It couldn’t have been a better fit. Although Emme’s treatment is done, Erica is still in our lives, and we visit with her often. She’s Emme’s best friend. She is part of our family forever.”
Emme graduated high school this summer, something she is immensely proud of, and despite residual effects from cancer, Emme has a beautiful way of accepting each challenge with determination and bravery.
Chemo Pal matches like Emme with Erica’s are only possible because of the generosity of our community and support from people just like you. Please consider donating today and help facilitate more Chemo Pal matches.