Will to Survive: A 10-year-old’s fight against cancer
When doctors told Nadia Beazley her daughter Emily had an aggressive and potentially deadly form of cancer, Nadia said the family had to make a choice.
“We cried and felt sorry for ourselves for about three days,” Nadia said. “After that I said to Emily, ‘we can either fight or be a victim. What do you want to do?’”
Emily chose to fight.
The 10-year-old Chicago girl has undergone nearly 30 months of treatment including chemotherapy, multiple hospital stays, and other treatments. Now her oncology care team at Advocate Children’s Hospital, Oak Lawn, Ill. say she has turned a corner and her future is looking a lot better and brighter.
Emily’s ordeal began when she was diagnosed with Stage III T-Cell Lymphoblastic Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. It is a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in the lymph system. The National Cancer Institute says that nearly 70,000 people will be diagnosed this year—more than 19,000 will die from the disease.
Nadia says she’s convinced that Emily’s fighting spirit has been a powerful weapon in fighting the disease.
“She’s been an inspiration to everyone around her,” Nadia said. “Her determination to beat this has had such an amazing impact on our family and on her care team too.”
Dr. Jason Canner, a pediatric, hematology/oncology specialist at Advocate Children’s Hospital said Emily’s attitude has played a key role in her treatments.
“She’s an amazing little girl,” Dr. Canner said. “Because she feels empowered to fight the disease, she asks great questions about her treatments and makes a point to really understand her diagnosis which is very helpful for us as physicians.
Nadia said Emily’s journey has been long and painful. But the challenge has put things into perspective for the family, including her husband Ed, a Chicago Police detective, and younger daughter Olivia.
“You feel like your world is ending but it’s not,” Nadia said. “It doesn’t matter if there’s laundry to be done. It doesn’t matter if there are dishes to be done. It’s the people in your life that matter most.”
The straight-A student will be one of 10 special pediatric patients from Advocate Children’s Hospital and Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center to take part in the Catch in the Confines event at Wrigley Field on June 16.
The kids will have a chance to run the bases, catch fly balls, hang out in the dugout and more. The event benefits Chicago Cubs Charities.
Emily said she knows exactly what she wants to be when she grows up.
“I’d like to be a nurse for kids who have cancer,” she said. “Then I could tell them that it was hard but I eventually survived. I’d let the kids tug on my hair to show them that it grew back and so will theirs. I’d tell them to just keep fighting and to be strong. You’ll eventually get through it.”
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