A SHEro Working to Cure Kids’ Cancer NOW!

It’s every mother’s nightmare: knowing your child is ill. In 2016, this happened to Monica and Ryan, when their beautiful 3-month-old daughter, Emmi Grace Angel, was frequently vomiting and couldn’t keep anything down. Monica took her to the pediatrician—and their world changed forever.

Emmi’s pediatrician noted that the soft spot that should have been on Emmi’s head was no longer soft; he told Monica to take Emmi Grace to the hospital immediately. Monica couldn’t even spare the time to wait for her husband to join her, but rushed to her local hospital.

The doctors discovered fluid around Emmi Grace’s brain and began prepping for surgery to drain the fluid and place a shunt to prevent any other build-up. An MRI of Emmi Grace’s brain in preparation for the surgery brought more bad news: a brain tumor on Emmi Grace’s brain stem, and it had to be removed immediately!

Little Emmi Grace’s situation was now life or death, and Monica could only wait: wait for the surgery to be completed, and then wait for the results of the tumor’s biopsy.   

The results were earth-shattering and heart-breaking: Emmi Grace had brain cancer, Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (AT/RT), a very rare pediatric cancer with only a one percent survival rate. But Monica was determined to stay strong and help Emmi fight.

For two months, Emmi Grace was treated with chemotherapy drugs that were not only not designed for brain cancer but also not intended for children—but it was the best chance doctors could give her. For two months, four different chemo drugs were delivered directly to her brain to try to kill the cancer.

And there were more surgeries. And tubes to deliver food and medication directly to her tiny intestine.

Monica stayed by Emmi Grace Grace’s side, day after day, and all through the night. She watched as tiny Emmi Grace fought.

But the day came when Emmi Grace’s tiny body couldn’t tolerate the chemotherapy. And Monica and Ryan prepared to take their tiny baby girl home for hospice care.

Emmi Grace passed, at just 5-and-a-half months. 

Monica Went home to her older daughter, Nina, vowing to be strong for her but also to take action for Emmi Grace. Her nemeses: childhood cancer and lack of child-centered treatment option. Her new, lifelong mission: to prevent any other child, any other family from suffering the same experience.

Sadly, Monica and Emmi Grace are not alone. Worldwide, a child is diagnosed with cancer every three minutes.  In the U.S. alone, each and every day, 43 children are diagnosed, and seven children die.

Spurred on by Emmi Grace’s fight and reeling from the lack of treatment options for children, Emmi Grace’s parents established a charitable foundation in their daughter’s name. The two-fold mission was to support families affected by kids’ cancers and raise awareness and funds to support innovative research into less toxic treatments for childhood cancer as well as a cure.

Over time the foundation grew and was renamed Cure Kids’ Cancer NOW! as a powerful call to action to spur private and public funding for pediatric cancer research and treatment.

“Emmi Grace’s Angels did some amazing work over the past few years. We started it to pay forward the kindness we received while Emmi Grace was inpatient fighting cancer,” says Monica, mother of Emmi Grace and co-founder of Cure Kids’ Cancer NOW!

Monica’s fight continues; the foundation is instrumental in bringing lawmakers’ attention to pediatric cancer and the need to develop treatments designed for children with cancer, and it also raises funds to help families going through the crisis of pediatric cancer as well as funds for innovative research designed for children with cancer.

The foundation’s Home for the Holidays program provides much needed financial relief for families battling childhood cancers by covering the cost of home care, allowing these “tiny but tough” ones to spend Christmas and Chanukah at home instead of in inpatient care.

“We want to honor all the tiny but tough kids fighting cancer. We want the world to know our mission just by seeing our name. Cure Kids’ Cancer NOW! is our mission, it’s our reason for being, it’s our goal. Together we will cure kids’ cancer now!” this SHEro says.

Monica is truly a SHEro and has the fight in her to make a difference. To support the tiny but tough, follow Cure Kids’ Cancer NOW! on Facebook.

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