September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Join us today, September 27, 2014 as CURE Childhood Cancer honors Emma Trapani. Join our fight as CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time! Donate to Emma’s fundraising page.
Emma was barely two and a half years old in June 2009. Our sitter told us she noticed an odd light reflection in Emma’s right eye. The next day I called my own optometrist and they fit us in that afternoon. Within the next few days we were referred to a Pediatric Ophthalmologist and a Pediatric Retina Specialist at Emory University. Emma endured endless eye exams and tests over the next six days and ultimately on June 19, 2009 her diagnosis was confirmed after an MRI. Our little girl had Retinoblastoma, a very rare malignant eye cancer, growing behind her right eye.
I was seven months pregnant then with our second child. We had a new baby on the way and our precious baby we already had was about to fight a very grown up disease. We were devastated. On June 29th we checked her into Egelston’s Children’s Hospital for surgery to have her enucleation. She recovered quickly from the surgery and was back to her normal two and a half year old antics in just a few days! When the test results came back, we found that Emma’s form of Retinoblastoma was not genetic and that the chances of our unborn baby inheriting the disease were unlikely. However, we found out that Emma had some “high risk features” involving her cancer and would need chemotherapy. Emma had one more surgery for a port placement in her chest where she would have her chemo administered. She started chemo at the end of July 2009 at the AFLAC Center at Egelston’s and she received her last chemo treatment in January 2010.
Just two days after Emma’s second chemo treatment, Bella was born. That day, tiny Bella gave her big sister the greatest gift she could– Hope. We were able to bank Bella’s cord blood for Emma’s future. Bella was just two weeks old by the time Emma went back to AFLAC for her third round of chemo. In those six months we were trying to find some kind of freakishly odd balance between caring for a newborn, traveling with Emma to the hospital for two days of outpatient chemo every six weeks, and helping Emma to navigate the new challenges of wearing glasses as a pretty active three year old as well as taking her to get fittings done for her new prosthesis she would have to wear. Each day we would say another prayer and we would look at her and still see our Emma, bright and cheerful and full of life. That alone got us through the worst days when we just could not seem to comprehend what was happening.