Emma is a spunky, fun-loving nine year old. She has the power to change someone’s mood by providing her warm smile and tender hugs. She has the drive to move mountains and will one day be a superstar in the fundraising community.
This young girl has participated in the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life since she was old enough to walk. She has fundraised right alongside her mother for the past three years. Emma even started her own team this year with like-minded friends. She enjoys what she does because it is important to her. Not too many nine year olds know a lot about cancer, but this girl does.
Emma has seen the effects of breast cancer on her mother, her aunt, her grandmother, and her great grandmother. It is very difficult for this young girl to look ahead in her future and not see a breast cancer diagnosis. With such a strong family history, how could she not see it?
Emma’s mom was in the same shoes at a young age. Two women she loved were suffering through cancer. As her mother aged, she kept the threat of cancer in the back of her mind, and it would occasionally come out in conversations with friends. However, Emma’s mother does not recall ever going through the turmoil that her daughter goes through.
Recently, Emma participated in a luminary ceremony where she placed the names of the ones she loved who had fought cancer onto a bag. After the daylight faded and the moon rose, those bags were lit by candle light. Tears began to fall in this sweet girl’s eyes. Not because the ones she loved fought cancer and survived, but because one day she too may have the awful disease.
How can someone so young be worried by what many consider to be an adult cancer? As Emma grows, she will need to be taught to be proactive in her own breast health. With a family history that seems to run rampant on her maternal side, starting self-exams young could ultimately help save her life. Statistics have shown when cancer is hereditary the following generation will have the disease at a younger age than the previous. That holds true in Emma’s family with diagnoses in their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s.
For now, it’s imperative that Emma leads a life full of love. Her family is working on reducing the negative stress her family’s breast cancer diagnoses have brought upon her. They are well aware of what could happen, but focusing on the now is best.
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