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Benefit to help family of third grader with cancer


Beach third grader Emma Orr with her mom, Michelle Crawford, stepdad Zak Fisk, and brother Tyler, 11. Courtesy photo.

Beach third grader Emma Orr with her mom, Michelle Crawford, stepdad Zak Fisk, and brother Tyler, 11. Courtesy photo.

Emma sleeping soundly. Courtesy photo.

Emma sleeping soundly. Courtesy photo.

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.”

Emma Orr has relapsed with Neuroblastoma in her brain and spine. Courtesy photo.

Emma Orr has relapsed with Neuroblastoma in her brain and spine. Courtesy photo.

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/.

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Overcoming your fear of donating blood 


"I have never been a fan of needles, which is why it took me so long to become a donor. Even though I was scared, I gave it a chance because my son received blood when he needed it. It's worth a little discomfort to give back and help those in need." Sommer Deering, blood donor and mother to son who is a blood recipient

“I have never been a fan of needles, which is why it took me so long to become a donor. Even though I was scared, I gave it a chance because my son received blood when he needed it. It’s worth a little discomfort to give back and help those in need.”
Sommer Deering, blood donor and mother to son who is a blood recipient

Sommer Deering faces her fear for the sake of her son

From Michigan Blood

When Traverse City residents Sommer and Mike Deering met at the county fair as teenagers, they hit it off right away and bonded over their hobby of raising pigs. They had no idea that their summer meeting would change the course of their lives forever. They fell in love, have been married for 15 years and have two sons.

When their youngest son, Cam, was an infant, he became very sick. The family brought him to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. Baby Cam was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH), which is a disorder that causes an overproduction of cells that can form tumors or damage organs. During his week in the hospital, he needed a blood transfusion to survive.

“It was a super scary time for my husband and me,” says Sommer. “But having blood available when we needed it most was very comforting.”

Cam and his family made numerous trips to the hospital for more treatments. Sommer and Mike continued to notice several bags of blood hanging from the IV stands of other sick children.

“It really made me think about how giving blood could be such an incredible help to these little ones going through such tough times,” adds Sommer. “I wanted to start donating blood after witnessing this. I wasn’t sure when I would make that commitment because I am scared of needles and blood—but I knew I wanted to someday.”

Beginning last year, Sommer decided to make good on her promise to donate blood in honor of her son. She was afraid, but gave it a chance because she was so grateful for the donors who saved her son’s life through blood donations.

“Even though I am scared, I get through the process by not looking at the needle or the blood, and then I am just fine! I keep going back—it’s worth a little discomfort in order to give back and help those in need. It makes me happy,” exclaims Sommer.

Michigan Blood thanks the Deering family for their dedication to the mission of saving lives through blood donation, and joins them in their challenge to others to overcome their fear of donating by giving it a chance. What better way to ease someone else’s pain than by facing your fears and donating to help save a life?

Michigan Blood is the sole provider of blood and blood products for more than 60 hospitals in Michigan, including Spectrum Health, Metro Health, and Mercy Health Saint Mary’s. Donations given outside of Michigan Blood do not have direct local impact. Donating blood with Michigan Blood helps save the lives of patients in Michigan hospitals. Any healthy person 17 or older (or 16 with parental consent) who weighs at least 110 pounds may be eligible to donate. Blood donors should bring photo ID. There is an urgent need for O-Negative blood donors. Donors with type O-Negative blood, or new donors who do not yet know their blood type, are encouraged to visit their local blood donation center. For additional information on donating blood, and to make an appointment, visit www.miblood.org.

Grand Rapids Donor Center is at 1036 Fuller Ave NE, Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, noon to 7 p.m.; Tuesdays and Fridays, 8 a.m. to  3:30 p.m.; and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The next blood drive at the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church will be Tuesday, April 19, from noon to 7 p.m..

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