Emi’s Life, One Year into Remission

Emi starts pre-school this year, a milestone her parents weren’t sure she’d ever make. Her hair has grown into soft curly locks that bounce as she walks. She twirls any chance she gets and performed in her first dance recital this past May. Emi is a big sister, a ballerina and a fighter.

Adjusting to a New “Normal”

Emi and her mom, Francisca, at CHOC in January 2015.

At just eight months old, Emi had a loss of appetite, was lethargic, dehydrated and wasn’t showing any improvement as days passed. Doctors discovered her white blood count to be astronomically high and she began chemotherapy the next day at Children’s Hospital of Orange County.

The day Emi was diagnosed with Leukemia was the only day her mom broke down and cried.

“For me it was frustration. She’s only 8 months old. There’s nothing I could do to explain what was happening to her, because she wouldn’t understand,” Francisca, Emi’s mother said. “We always try to be positive around her.”

Emi underwent chemotherapy for two years and Francisca stayed by her side every single day.

Staying in the hospital for 45 days at a time became their new “normal.” They would take long walks through hospital hallways and they made lifelong friends with families going through similar health challenges.

“Being stuck in the hospital as a kid sucks, but Emi didn’t know anything different. As an adult, I really looked forward to hospital activities,” Francisca said.

That’s why Starlight Special Deliveries provide kids in hospitals with games, toys and arts and crafts and other events that bring smiles to the families.

Staying Positive for Emi

Starlight was visiting our hospital partner, CHOC, and immediately fell in love with Emi’s smile. No child should have to grow up in the hospital, but Emi gave us all hope that she was going to beat cancer.

We asked Francisca how she stayed so optimistic through the years.

“You have to be positive, at the end of the day, it’s my child going through it, not me,” Francisca said. “If she passed away, I wouldn’t want her last few days to see Mom or Dad sad.”

Emi at Disneyland with Mom, Dad and little sister.

Francisca and her husband, who is an active duty Marine, planned the birth of their second child when they knew Emi would be in remission.

Emi has been in remission for one year now and goes in for a checkup every two months.

Even though she isn’t out of the woods just yet, life outside of the hospital is wonderful. The family is about to welcome a new baby brother and they moved to Virginia to be closer to relatives. You can follow along on Emi’s journey by visiting, facebook.com/prayforemi

 Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

This month is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This year in the U.S, 10,270 parents will find out their child has cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. Not every child gets to go home or experience their first day of pre-school.

We’re so grateful Emi is well, happy and out of the hospital. Help us continue to bring our programs for hospitalized kids and families to brighten their long days. Donate today so kids can experience the wonder and excitement of childhood, despite being in the hospital.

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Tara Millspaugh

Digital Media Manager

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