She’s fun loving, happy, confident young lady with a smile that will melt your heart. Having met Emily through my children’s school and with her mum being my son’s nursery leader, I had the privilege of a cheerful wave every time our paths crossed. Emily was always looking out for the little ones as well as those who needed a friend. Kindness personified, selfless and polite to boot!
Then a cloud moved in.
As her mum, Katherine explains in her “My Emily” blog, on the 11th of December 2015 Emily was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. She was 12 years old. The potency of that line sends waves of chills down anyone’s back.
In the 16 months that followed that dreadful day, Emily endured all that comes with treatments. Her young body was put through hell from the likes of chemotherapy and its aftermaths. However, Emily’s sunshine wasn’t about to be blocked by no cancer cloud. Through sheer brilliance Emily woke up every morning and took on whatever the day had in store head on. The details of her treatment are irrelevant, cancer doesn’t deserve a place in our blog! Emily does. I have no doubt there were bad days. I have read Katherines blog with my hand on my heart and a tear in my eye. I understand this is the biggest fight many will ever face. What I wanted to focus on was this wicked kid who stood up and kept moving forward. Who kept getting up, even when she didn’t want to, and fought her way through that cloud. Emily brought the sunshine.
Now I know it’s in no way the same thing and I’m not for one minute comparing the two as they are completely different fights, but I have learnt a lot from Emily in the past year. Mental health, weight issues, body confidence are real battles, they make you want to hide away. It consumes you in a way that isolates and can destroy your spirit leaving behind the shell of your former happiness. I have stood at the side lines, far back from everyone and observed how Emily went through all this yuck, yet still managed to smile at people. She still waved to say “Hello”, She was still her.
Suddenly, my issues I had with myself became trivial. Emily is power and strength. Hands down. When I started writing this series, I set out to encourage readers to believe in their inner strength. Believe that no matter how bad things are getting or have got, your drive and power is a force to be reckoned with. I stripped back the layers, bearing all and showing what life after the darkness can be. I am fully aware that I am only one fish in a very large sea and the pain others endure in their lives makes it very hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But this girl, Emily, has done it. She is empowerment.
Annually the Race for Life comes to Cambridge where the Pink Army descend on the cobbles of Kings College and collectively “sticks two fingers up” to cancer (sorry for swearing mom”). Everyone who takes part or donates is directly affected by cancer in some way making it very emotional for all. I have the pleasure of saying that in an incredible act of community, 57 people connected directly to Emily and Katherine have signed up and formed #TeamEmily. That alone is incredible but what is even more amazing (and completely fitting example of the selflessness I was referring to earlier) all the money raised through the hashtag on JustGiving is going on contents of a special gift bag for the parents/carers of the C2 ward at Addenbrookes Hospital. Where Emily was, and still remains in the care of. That link can be found here
Emily is in remission but still receiving monthly chemo treatments which will continue for the next 2 years. Having inspired me, I had to ask what her secret was!
This is a small snippet of our conversation. I thought it better to copy and paste so that the words remain 100% hers.
Can you tell me what motivates you?
Emily: Knowing I’ll be greeted with lots of kisses from my puppy motivates me as well as knowing that when I get to school, I get to hang out with my friends all day!
What is your passion?
Emily: One of my many passions is horse riding. I have been doing it since the age of 4 and I’m so happy to be back at it after many months of not being able to ride due to my Hickman line. But after the Hickman line was removed I was back in the saddle!!!
Where would you like to go in the future? Uni or work? What drives you to get up and go?
Emily: In the future, my dream would be to live in Brighton and if possible maybe go to uni there and do a vet nurse course.
What’s your favourite music and TV show?
Emily: I don’t really have a favourite type of music. I honestly will listen to anything that I hear and like the sound of! One of my favourite TV shows is Love Island or any of the soaps like Eastenders or Coronation Street.
Your positive attitude comes natural but if you find yourself feeling a bit lower than normal, what’s your fav way to relax and clear your mind?
Emily: One of the ways I like to pick myself up when I’m down is either going out for a walk with my puppy or going horse riding as I feel like it helps to clear your mind and when you are about walking or riding a horse, you don’t have to think about anything going on in your life and you can just relax.
A lot of people will draw strength from you for many reasons, would you have any advice or suggestions?
Emily: My advice for people who want to take strength from me is stay positive, take everything as it comes and don’t live with any hate or regrets as life is too short and you don’t know what’s around the corner.
Finally, if you had a button with two settings, one granting wishes and one for getting wishes, what would you use them for?
Emily: If I had a button that could grant two wishes, my two wishes would be for everyone to be happy and health and also to meet Danny Jones from McFly!
I will be covering the emotion on the day of the Race which will be in part 2 of this blog. I think she deserves a two parter! Stay tuned to find out how the race went!
DeAnna’s (Blue Chameleon blog series) Focuses on rebuilding self-confidence after suffering through difficult times. DeAnna lives in Cambridge, England with her family, cats and dog. She credits a portion of happiness to her partner, Pete, punctuation manager, chief tea maker, and bringer of toast.