In March of 2009, Emily was diagnosed with a rare form of tongue cancer. She was only 21 years old at the time, and did not fit the typical description of an oral cancer patient. Typically, tongue cancer occurs in older men who smoke, drink, or have a family history of oral cancer. Emily was a young woman who did not smoke, drink, and had no family history of oral cancer. Doctors informed her she had a 30% chance of survival. This was devastating news to Emily and her family, especially because she had already overcome serious medical issues in the past.
When Emily was only 14 years old, just one month before her 15th birthday, she had to undergo an invasive spinal surgery to correct Scoliosis, which is an abnormal curving of the spine, and again, just one month before her 16th birthday. Emily was able to make it through these surgeries, only to be diagnosed with cancer a few years later.
During Emily's Partial Glossectomy (removal of a portion of the tongue) doctor's discovered the cancer was larger than they had previously believed. The doctors informed her that she had less than one year to live. Miraculously, after 30 rounds of radiation, 7 rounds of chemo therapy, and a difficult surgery (partial glossectomy), she was declared cancer free!
Emily was triumphant, even under devastating circumstances, and was determined to reach her goals in life. She graduated from Northern Illinois University Magna Cum Laude and was the first ever recipient of the Overcoming Adversity award.
On May 24, 2014, Emily married her soul mate, Bryan. She was looking forward to starting a new chapter in her life with her husband. Bryan and Emily recently purchased their first home together as newlyweds. After 5 years, Emily was finally able to pay off her massive medical bills this month. They adopted an adorable shelter dog, which they named Patchy. Emily's fairy tale ending to a tragic set of obstacles made way for a new beginning.
Just when Emily was able to settle in to her new life, tragedy struck again. On Wednesday, December 10, 2014, Emily went in for a biopsy of her tongue. She had been experiencing pain in her tongue and was having difficulty speaking and swallowing. The doctor was sure the biopsy would come back negative for cancer. When the pathologist informed him the biopsy had come back positive, he was in disbelief. The doctor, himself, decided to review the results of the biopsy to be sure. Emily was diagnosed with tongue cancer for the second time.
She is having a CT Scan to determine whether the cancer has spread to her jaw. Once the results are in, a plan of action will be put into place and will begin immediately.
Emily now faces more surgery, more radiation, more chemo therapy, and more heartache. This means her medical bills, which were finally paid off this month, will accumulate once again. She is only 2 classes away from receiving her Master's degree, but she will most likely not be able to attend classes for an undetermined amount of time. This will cause her student loans, equaling more than $80,000, to come out of deferment.
We know we can't relieve the overwhelming stress she is under due to her cancer, but we are hoping we can relieve some of the financial hardship she is facing because of her diagnosis. Emily is a 27 year old newlywed who should be enjoying married life, planning for the future, and beginning a new chapter. Instead, she is fighting for her life for the fourth time.
Through all of this, Emily has managed to maintain a positive attitude about her future. She is certain she will be able to kick cancer's butt a second time!
Even if you aren't able to donate to Emily's cause, please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. Share this page so others can become a part of Emily's story.