Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Kids Who Inspire Series: Emma Faith Clark


Emma and her mom, Katie at St. Jude's

If you are really lucky, you get a chance to either inspire someone else or to be inspired. Emma Faith Clark was one of those rare kids who inspired everyone with her smile, her non-rhyming poems, and her courage. Even though I never met this amazing young girl, I loved her. Her mother was gracious enough to share Emma's journey with me during Emma's fight against cancer. This is Emma's story as told by her mother, fellow children's author, Katie Clark.



“I sing, you sing. Singing makes you feel better. It makes you happy to sing.”



When Emma was three years old she was diagnosed with a disease called cancer. Most people have heard of cancer. Even kids. Emma’s cancer wasn’t all over her body. It was in just a few places, called her lymph nodes. Everyone has lymph nodes, which are glands in the body that help fight off sickness. But her lymph nodes were not strong enough to fight off cancer. 


It took almost three years of treatment with chemotherapy to get rid of all the cancer. The next two years were very happy years! Emma was much better, and she enjoyed lots of trips to the park, the library, and the swimming pool. But then Emma got sick again. It was summer time, and she was having strange lumps on her neck. The doctors tested her blood. They found more cancer. This time the cancer was in her lymph nodes as well as her blood. Emma would need more chemotherapy. She would also need a treatment called a bone marrow transplant.



Emma did very well with her treatment. The cancer went away! But the doctors knew the cancer would come back again. They needed to do a second treatment. Emma needed a bone marrow transplant. Bone marrow is where blood is made. Since Emma’s blood had cancer in it, the doctors knew her bone marrow was sick. Her transplant happened just before Christmas. It was very easy for Emma. The doctors put the new bone marrow into her body through an IV line. It didn’t hurt at all.



The bone marrow transplant worked! Emma’s body began working well on its own, and there was no more cancer. But other things started to go wrong. She got a sickness called graft versus host disease. Then, her lungs got sick and it was hard for her to breathe. Sometimes, during all of these hard things, it has been hard for Emma to stay cheerful. She has had pain, or felt sick. She has had lots of needle sticks.


 
But Emma never lets these hard things make her too sad. She works hard to stay happy when she can. One of the things Emma does to stay encouraged is writing. Sometimes she writes stories about cats or unicorns. And sometimes she writes poems. Most people think that all poems should rhyme, but a lot of Emma’s poems don’t rhyme. Here are the words to one of her poems:
 
“I sing, you sing. Singing makes you feel better. It makes you happy to sing.”
 
Writing is a great way to express your feelings and use your imagination. Those things can lift your spirits when you’re sad. They can also help you not feel bored. The next time you feel bored, lonely, or sad you should give writing a try!


If you care to donate to St. Jude, here is the link to do it in Emma's name


Author's Note:

Ten year old Emma lost her battle on June 14th. I am a better person to have known her. Her amazing strength, determination, and courage, her love of her family, her love of animals, her favorite colors--pink and black, her fascination with unicorns, and the joy she brought with a simple smile will never be forgotten. So, be inspired by her story. When you face a difficult situation, don't let it break your spirits. Find something like Emma did that will raise your hopes, your spirit, and your heart. Just don't let the sadness overwhelm you.

Emma, this pink unicorn is for you. Thank you for inspiring me. You are forever in my thoughts and prayers.