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Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Center

Emma's Story

A Mother's Reflection on Neuroblastoma Diagnosis

On July 31st, 1999, after a routine visit with our pediatrician, we found out that our 2 ½- year-old daughter had a rare form of cancer called Neuroblastoma (a solid cancerous tumor that begins in nerve tissue). Our world was turned upside down and we were suddenly facing the worst crisis of our lives.

I will never forget the moment I learned the results of Emma's CT scan. My husband was standing up, rocking Emma as she slowly woke up from the sedation. The radiologist asked him to sit down. But he said no. Looking back now, I think that he thought if he refused to sit, he would somehow be refusing the news that our baby had cancer.

I remember thinking, "What is that? Is it bad? How bad? Will she die? Will it take Emma away from us?" Later my only thought was "How much time will we have before the cancer becomes too much for our baby's little body?"

The night we found out about Emma's diagnosis, we spoke to Emma's doctor for the first time, and he gave us what we needed most, hope. His words of comfort pulled us out of the hole we were in. He lifted our hearts and our spirits by focusing us on the fight ahead...the fight for our daughter's life.

With the help of the wonderful doctors and the nurses, the best medical treatment, and a lot of prayers, we made it through. Emma's story so far is a happy one. It has been several years since Emma's diagnosis. Today she is strong, active and enjoying elementary school. We have learned so much about God's grace and the love of friends and complete strangers. We have learned to appreciate the precious gift of this moment with family and friends. But every day, every single day, we live with the fear of the cancer coming back.

Every day I pray for the doctors and nurses who treat our children. I pray for the researchers who are searching for more effective treatments. I pray for the parents who are going through what we went through. I pray for the children who are suffering and afraid, but whose courage and strength inspire us to be strong. I pray that one day, when a parent hears the words, "Your child has cancer," they can take a deep breath and know that it will be safely and painlessly taken care of.

With eternal gratitude,
Angie (Emma's Mom)

Looking for information for adult patients? Visit The U of M Adult Blood and Marrow Transplant Program