Emily Siddell is an active, friendly little girl who is always happy and loves Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Scooby Doo and to make people laugh. If not for being completely bald due to chemotherapy, you would never even know was “sick.” But Emily is battling Philadelphia Positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a specific type of leukemia with the chromosomal abnormality Philadelphia Positive, which makes the disease even more challenging to treat.
Emily was diagnosed with leukemia after being lethargic and sick for a few weeks and her mom Geri took her to the doctor’s where blood tests confirmed that she had cancer. Compounding the difficulty of treatment (in addition to the chromosomal abnormality) was the fact that Emily had prior heart surgery and surgery on her esophagus.
For the past 15 months, Emily has bravely been undergoing inpatient treatment requiring her to be in the hospital for about two weeks of every month. Just recently she has been able to decrease her inpatient treatments to one week per month, and is hoping soon to move toward outpatient treatment once a month. Emily has also had more than 15 admissions to the hospital for reasons other than chemotherapy, due to her past health history.
One of the therapies that Emily is currently taking has given her a 90 percent chance of survival; it’s a relatively new drug and has only been available since 2008. Without it, she would only have a 20 percent chance of being cured. Geri credits research breakthroughs made possible by organizations like Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and acknowledges all of the children and parents that have gone through what she’s going through now.
Despite the multitude of medical problems that Emily has, she remains strong even on the toughest days when she tells her mom, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” Geri hopes that someday Emily will look back on these days that are filled with treatments and hospital visits as just a small part of her history and that she far surpasses what the doctors believe is possible. Mostly, she hopes that she will continue to be an inspiration for others.
Geri admits that the journey that they have been on is certainly hard, but she knows that they’ll get through it. She encourages others to take it one day at a time, take all the support and help you can get and be open and honest with your child.
Hero quote: “Cancer stinks! We rock!”
Information provided by Geri Siddell, Emily’s Mom