Through a dark cold grey mist of personal tragedy and suffering, Emma selflessly finds great brightness

“I met Emma, a 9-year-old girl, 3 months ago after a progressive pain in her thigh stopped her playing the competitive camogie she thrived on. Subsequent tests confirmed the cause: an aggressive malignant bone tumour. Following a disarmingly and beautifully honest discussion between Emma and I, she agreed to complete her metastatic work up and start chemotherapy. Heavy hearted I viewed the CT chest scan, revealing multiple tiny silent but ominous tumour nodules, signifying a poorer prognosis. Following another honest discussion, albeit more subdued this time, Emma started her chemotherapy which she stoically endured although not without its physical, and to a lesser extent, psychological, toll.

Following nearly 3 months of induction chemotherapy, I repeated the CT chest scan hoping to see an improvement. My heart sinks; the nodules are bigger and more in number. Emma has a progressive disease in the face of chemotherapy thereby substantially further decreasing her chances of survival.

I break this unexpected and devastating news to her mother first and then together with her mother, tears rolling down her cheeks, I gently bring Emma into the inner circle and discuss the implications of the findings. After a few seconds of quiet reflection she inquisitively asks me, ‘Have you ever been able to tell other patients that the chemotherapy has worked and that their tumors have disappeared?’ I smile and reply, ‘Yes, thankfully on many occasions,’ to which she replies with an even bigger smile and eyes lighting up once again, ‘I am so glad for them.’

Through a dark cold grey mist of personal tragedy and suffering, Emma selflessly finds great brightness, warmth and colour in celebrating the more effective treatment outcomes in others. What a humble privilege it is to be her doctor.”

This story was highlighted by the Childhood Cancer Foundation (7/7) #LetsDoThisTogether

Humans of Dublin partnered up with Childhood Cancer Foundation, a volunteer parent led charity founded by families of children with cancer.  The charity aims to raise awareness of the devastating impact childhood cancer has on the families.  CCF tries to ease the burden on children in treatment for cancer by funding services at St John’s Ward at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin where 1200 children affected by cancer are treated each year. The charity also advocates for these children and families and supports education and research projects concerning childhood cancer. For more information see

You can also follow CCF on Lightitupgold Childhood Cancer Foundation

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