In November of 2016, my 16 month old niece Emrie, began feeling poorly and my brother took her to the doctor. She was treated for allergies, a sinus infection, and an ear infection—normal toddler illnesses. Over the course of the next month, Emrie continued to feel bad and was given antibiotics by several different doctors. She seemed to feel better for a time, but never 100%. When her eyes began to swell and protrude, and the medications did not seem to be helping, Emrie’s mom and dad took her to the Emergency Room at Scottish Rite. That visit on December 23, 2016 changed our lives forever. What intended to be a visit to get her well by Christmas Day revealed very scary news. Scott, her father, was adamant that tests be run to get to the bottom of why she felt bad and looked the way she did and his insistence turned out to be what very well saved her life. Cat Scan results showed two large masses behind Emrie’s eyes, which were diagnosed possibly cancerous. It was absolutely heartbreaking walking her to the Aflac Cancer Center that night where she was immediately admitted.
The next morning, Christmas Eve, more scans were done and doctors delivered more bad news. Her body was covered with masses. Her spine, her lungs, her kidneys, behind her eyes…there was cancer everywhere. “Neuroblastoma” kept being said. On Christmas morning, Emrie had surgery to remove a biopsy from one of the masses behind her eyes. Then we waited.
Three days later one of Emrie’s doctors came in to discuss the findings of the biopsy. That is when we learned that Emrie did not in fact have Neuroblastoma, but Acute Myeloid Leukemia. The masses found throughout her body were not tumors after all, but clusters of Leukemia cells. She was transported by ambulance to Egleston Children’s Hospital that night. Egleston houses the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and is equipped to treat patients who will require long term hospital stays.
Things moved very quickly from there. After meeting with doctors, a treatment plan was laid out and she had surgery to insert a central line into her heart so that chemo could promptly begin. The plan consisted of four rounds of chemo over the next six months. Each round would result in a 4-6 week hospital stay to monitor her blood counts and treat chemo side effects.
As Emrie is in her last weeks of the 4th and final round of treatment, we praise God that she is in remission and doing well. She will celebrate her 2nd birthday in July and has endured more than most do in a lifetime. Since December 23rd, she has spent weeks on end in the hospital with just days at home between treatments. She has undergone very intensive chemotherapy around the clock for up to 10 days at a time. Her type of cancer also attacks the spinal fluid and bone marrow, along with the blood, so she has had many spinal taps to administer chemo in addition to the chemo in her central line. Through all the nausea and vomiting, the bone pain, the headaches, fighting RSV while in the hospital, a 107 degree temperature and beating cancer—she has been a very brave baby girl. She is a trooper and has absolutely won the hearts of all that have cared for her.
Scott and Jamie live in the house that Jamie grew up in. They have been renovating the house themselves for over a year now. The living room, kitchen, and master bedroom were under construction when Emrie was diagnosed and hasn’t been touched since. When you hear the awful words, your child has cancer, everything stops.
The amount of time and involvement required to care for a child with cancer is incredible! Emrie’s older siblings, Kyra, Kamryn, and Kainan have been living with Jamie’s parents since Emrie’s diagnosis. When Emrie’s health and treatment would allow, Jamie has tracked back and forth so she can continue to care for Emrie as well as the older children.
And Scott, my brother, has never left Emrie’s side. Throughout Emrie’s entire treatment Scott has lived in her hospital room and hasn’t spent one single day or night away from her. Scott is a lineman for Greystone Power Corporation, working there for over 13 years now. He has not been back to work since that devastating December 23rd night.
Throughout this scary journey of cancer, there have been many times we have felt incredibly thankful. We are so thankful for Egleston, for our friends and family, for your prayers and for Emrie’s current remission. We are also so happy and excited to know that Emrie will be a big sister in August! Two days before Emrie was diagnosed with cancer, Scott and Jamie found out they were expecting again. They had not even told our family yet!
All of this is what brought me to begin this GoFundMe account. So many of our friends and family offered to create one at the beginning of Emrie’s illness, but Scott and Jamie decided against it. Everyone was already donating so many supplies and things, it just didn’t seem right at the time. My entire family is still so overwhelmed with the support that has been shown for not only Emrie, but for all of us. Thank you doesn’t even seem adequate for how we all feel.
But as treatment winds down and “life after cancer” begins, reality of a new normal begins to set in. Coming home to a house that needs projects finished, adding a new baby in August, helping Emrie regain her strength and continue with her follow up care, and Scott returning to work after 6 months, it can seem so overwhelming. With Jamie being a stay at home mom, they rely solely on Scott’s income. Since he has not worked since December to be with Emrie, I would like to be able to help them get back on their feet.
It is hard to ask for help, especially after so many of you have already done so much, we just ask that you prayerfully consider donating to make Emrie’s homecoming a little easier. God shows up in every single detail and we have been so incredibly blessed with our steadfast friends, family and even strangers who always knew just when we needed them. Every hug, card, text, Facebook message, phone call, donation and prayer has not gone unnoticed. We know who you are! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
Now it’s time to get ready to “Ring The Bell” and celebrate Emrie kicking cancer’s butt! My hope is that she can welcome her new sister to a completely remodeled home and that they can begin their new life cancer and stress free.