March 24, 6-8 p.m. at Beach Elementary
By Judy Reed
In September 2015, Emma Orr was a beautiful, happy girl who loved sparkles, and loved being outdoors playing with her kittens and running hot wheels and monster trucks through the dirt. By the end of the month, the sweet second-grader at Beach Elementary was fighting for her life.
Emma lives here in Cedar Springs with her mom and stepdad, Michelle Crawford and Zak Fisk, and brother, Tyler, 11. Michelle related how she first knew something was wrong with Emma.
“Emma woke me up with a serious bloody nose, and as the days followed, she became very pale with high fevers and she all but quit eating. Emma was admitted to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital September 24, 2015 and a series of tests were taken including an MRI, bone marrow and blood tests. On September 25, 2015, Emma was diagnosed with stage 4 high risk Neuroblastoma. The cancer was found in her shoulders, spine, left leg, pelvic bones, in her liver and around her liver.”
Michelle couldn’t believe what she heard. “I was an emotional roller coaster running off of 2-3 hours of sleep. I was in denial at first because Emma was always a healthy child,” she explained.
According to cancer.gov, Neuroblastoma is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in neuroblasts (immature nerve tissue) in the adrenal gland, neck, chest, or spinal cord. In stage 4, it has spread to distant lymph nodes or other parts of the body, and may be hard to cure.
Emma started on treatment immediately. According to Michelle, Emma completed 8 rounds of chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant, four cycles of antibody therapy and 12 rounds of radiation. Her treatments started September 2015 and went until August 2016. On June 10, 2016, she went into remission.
It lasted six months.
On December 12, 2016, Emma, now in third grade, relapsed with Neuroblastoma in her brain and spine. There were four tumors with the main tumor wrapped around blood vessels. Emma was given a 0 percent chance of survival.
“Emma did 17 rounds of radiation in hopes to shrink the tumors and expand her life a little longer,” explained Michelle. She said that radiation did shrink some of the tumors, however it has caused the main tumor to start bleeding. Emma’s survival chance went up slightly to 5 percent, but the bleeding will only increase as time goes on.
The Post asked Michelle how much Emma knows about this, and how is she taking it?
“Emma realizes her chance to survive is small and she understands the bleeding will continue to get worse until the unthinkable happens.”
The family is making the most of and treasuring their time together with Emma. “Emma has dropped out of school to spend more time with family as time is ticking away,” said Michelle. “It’s been a very emotional experience for all family members involved and we are all just trying to enjoy having Emma with us as long as possible.”
Recently, they attended Disney World together and made many happy memories, through a trip made possible by the Make-A-Wish foundation. “She loved every moment of it. Emma got to meet almost every princess possible and she loved the roller coasters!”
Emma’s mom said that insurance has covered about 90 percent of Emma’s medical treatments and some of the prescriptions. But they still need some financial support. There is a gofundme page set up at http://tinyurl.com/emmaorr for those who wish to donate.
Also, the Beach Elementary PTO is holding a special 25-cent sale fundraiser for Emma on Friday evening, March 24, from 6-8 p.m. Come join in a fun night of shopping to help raise money for Emma and her family. Booths will be set up with local direct sales consultants. Two raffle prizes will be available from each booth, each valued at a minimum of $25. Purchase 25-cent raffle tickets throughout the event and drop your tickets into the cup next to the raffle prize you wish to win. To make it even better, for every $10 spent at the booths, you will earn Golden Tickets. Golden Tickets get placed into a separate raffle drawing. One lucky winner will be announced at the end of the event. That lucky winner will receive a raffle prize valued at a minimum of $25 from each of the booths present. There will also be a custom Fight for Emma “No one fights alone” bracelet at the Plunder Design booth. Be sure to check that out.
To follow Emma’s fight, you can follow the Fight for Emma facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/732117343587400/.