Perhaps it is children’s innocence which makes them so resilient. They have no clue of the battle which lies ahead. They don’t fully understand illness, they only know how it feels and how it prevents them from doing the things they enjoy most. Their strength comes from seeing the world as a glass half full. At eight years old, when life is still new, natural optimism abounds.
In the summer of 2009 Coco Lewis noticed a lump on her little girl Emma. Concerned, Coco called her pediatrician who suggested it was probably a lymph node and Emma would most likely get sick. When several days passed and Emma was still a healthy little girl, Coco took her back to the doctor and Emma had blood tests. There was a one in 100 chance Emma would have cancer; she did. Emma had surgery towards the end of September on a Wednesday. By the following Monday she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). “We were blown away,” says Coco, “so there began our journey with this terrible disease.”
As Emma began treatment the toughest part for her was trying to understand she was ‘sick’. “Emma was not even sick, so she did not understand why she was in the hospital. I had to stop saying she was sick and tell her that she had some bad stuff in her blood and we had to get rid of it,” explains Coco. In addition to ALL, Emma had a chromosome disorder which caused her treatment to be nearly double. A port was placed in her chest and she eventually reached maintenance in December 2010 with “God’s help and many, many prayers [from] some great people.”
With maintenance came great news – returning back to school! Despite taking a chemo pill each night, Emma is “back to being a kid again” and is expected to finish treatment in February 2012. Coco describes her seven year old daughter as both strong and precious; someone who has had to grow up fast in the past two years. The prayer of Emma’s family, as well as ours at High Fives for Hope, is that Emma will remain cancer free forever with no side effects from the medications she must take.
Each year an average of 5,200 people are diagnosed with ALL, the leading form of leukemia among children Emma’s age. For more information on ALL and other forms of leukemia please visit the “Awareness” tab on our website or the National Cancer Institute’s website.