Emma is a fighter. She is truly EmmaStrong

Emma is a fighter. She is truly EmmaStrong

Friday, September 2, 2016

Strong…courageous…resilient…persistent…fighter. These are words you wouldn’t normally use to describe a three year old, but when we look at our daughter, Emma Gehring, those are exactly the words that come to mind. While Emma is a normal three year old in many ways, she has also been challenged in ways that most three year olds aren’t.

Emma is a happy, spunky little girl who loves to play dolls, play doctor, have fun in her kitchen and follow her brother everywhere. She loves all things Minnie Mouse and Doc McStuffins and anything girly like purses and bows. Emma’s twinkle in her eye and smile melt your heart and can’t help but make you smile. She is so loving, and takes every opportunity to cuddle and share hugs. When you look at her it is sometimes hard to believe all she has endured in three years.

Like any family we were overjoyed when Emma was born and were so thankful for our beautiful children. We, like so many took for granted that our children would be healthy. When Emma was 7 months old we began to notice issues with her development and our doctor ordered an MRI. On January 2, 2013, our lives changed forever. The results of the MRI revealed that Emma had a sizeable brain tumor called a pilomyxoid astrocytoma at just 7 months old. It was devastating news for our family. In the days following her diagnosis we struggled to understand why this was happening to our daughter and what we should do next. There were many times that we weren’t sure how we would go on, but Emma’s beautiful smile and courageous spirit has kept us strong throughout this journey.

In the past three years Emma has experienced more than we would have ever imagined. Shortly after her diagnosis the Hoffman family shared their experiences with us and helped us to get in touch with Boston Children’s Hospital. On January 15th, 2013 Emma had her first surgery in Boston to resect the tumor.  Emma’s surgeons shared with us that her tumor was not cancerous, but is fast growing; therefore it would have to be treated with chemotherapy. During the first year and a half of her treatments Emma was on three different chemotherapy regimens. Unfortunately the chemotherapy regimens were unable to control the growth of the tumor. It was so frustrating to watch Emma fight so hard and endure the side effects of the chemotherapy, yet the treatments be unsuccessful. As the tumor grew back, Emma lost all of the skills she had fought so hard to gain back. It was heartbreaking to watch the tumor take away so much from her. In August of 2014Emma had a second surgery done to resect her tumor. Since Emma’s second tumor resection she has been on two different chemotherapy regimens. The treatment that she is on now has resulted in 9 monthsof stable scans, which we are incredibly thankful for.

Through all of the surgeries, chemotherapy treatments and endless hours of therapy, Emma has continued to show us what it means to be a fighter. She meets each obstacle head on, and on the days that are hard she shows us that sometimes the smallest people can show the most courage. Emma has endured two inpatient stays at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital and ongoing weekly therapy in order to regain the skills that other kids learn automatically. Her determination shows through each day as she fights to be just like any other three year old. Emma’s happy personality and love of her family has shown through every step of the journey and has served as a source of strength for us as parents. She has taught us so many lessons about what is truly important in life.

Watching Emma’s strength as well as the strength of other children and families fighting this disease has served as motivation for our family to form the EmmaStrong Foundation to help do our part to raise awareness and funding to find a cure for our kids. Each year we host the EmmaStrong Drive for a Cure golf tournament as well as t-shirt sales to help raise funding for a cure. We have watched Emma battle for three years with courage and resilience, and know first hand the importance of finding more effective treatments for our children who fight this horrible disease.

Emma’s journey has shown us what true strength, courage, and resilience are. Emma shows us each and every day what it means to be strong and to be a fighter. We are so incredibly thankful for her happy, spunky, strong, and loving personality and for all she has taught us about life. She inspires us with her strength and perseverance. Emma is a fighter. She is truly EmmaStrong!

-Written by Emma's Mom, Kathryn Gehring

Keep up with Emma: http://emmastrong.com/.

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