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Trees of Hope, WI

In memory of Lindsay (Wenzel) Lopez, Let's Find A Cure

Lindsay's Voice Blog

Please Meet Emma Rose Trees of Hope WI Ambassador for 2013

Date: 9/12/2013 5:27:00 PM

All of us at Lindsay's Voice are proud to introduce you to EmmaRose, a local teenager, who will be one of the Ambassadors for Trees of Hope WI this year!  She is an inspiring young woman, who is in treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. 
But through her treatments, she has decided to focus on others.  We invite you to read her story.

My story starts in October of my sophomore year. I started running cross-country in 7th grade. I was always a decent runner. However, during the season of my Sophomore year, I noticed my race times did not reflect all the hard work and effort I was putting in. I would try so hard, but I was becoming the slowest on my team. Oftentimes I would get dizzy or light headed. Where I go to school, we have a big staircase from the downstairs lockers to the classrooms upstairs. Whenever I walked upstairs with my backpack full of books I became completely out of breath. Almost as much, as if I had just run around the whole school but I had only walked about 20 steps. Sometimes it got so bad I would have to sit down and catch my breath before continuing to my next class. I never told my parents exactly what was happening. They knew sometimes I would complain of not feeling great, but just as I wasn’t concerned, neither were they.
 My mom noticed I was getting pale and thought it could be anemia. I started to take some iron pills hoping that would help. Things just weren’t getting any better. In fact, they were getting worse.
The morning of January 17, there was a terrible snowstorm. I felt awful that morning and couldn’t get going for the life of me. I was extremely lethargic and had a horrible headache. It felt like my head weighed 100 pounds and I had a hard time keeping it up. After getting ready for school, I told my dad that I could not make it all day. He already had to drive my sister to school so he told me to come along, and if I was feeling better by the time I got to school, I should stay, otherwise he would bring me to the doctor. Well, what was normally a 25-minute drive turned into almost an hour drive due to the snow. He asked me if I was well enough to stay at school and I said if I go to school now, you would have to come back in the storm and pick me up at noon. So straight from school we went to the doctors. 
 At the doctor’s office, they asked me a number of questions and took a blood test. I was never good with needles and walking back to the waiting room after the blood draw, I got dizzy again. Within seconds, I passed out in the chair next to my dad and was out for at least 10 minutes. When I woke up, I was in a room lying down and my doctor was talking to my dad. She had tears in her eyes as she told my dad about the blood results. I knew that was not a good sign. She mentioned the word “leukemia,” but I was feeling too sick to think much of it. They immediately sent us to Children’s Hospital for further testing where we met up with my mom who had been teaching.

When my dad and I got to the hospital, we were directed to the second floor clinic, the HOT clinic which stands for HEMOTOLOGY ONCOLOGY and TRANSPLANT. 
 Once we got in our room there were doctors and nurses coming in about every 15 minutes. They did another blood draw and determined I had ALL leukemia. This is the most common and treatable form of Leukemia to have. 
 However, I am in the Very High Risk Category which is the worst category of ALL to be in. The doctor who delivered the news did it in such a comforting way. He talked directly to me and made sure that he told me everything. Everything was so scary and so new, but he helped to calm my nerves a little. This was the only time I cried. After a few LONG hours of waiting, they told us what the plan was. I was to get blood and platelet transfusions for 24 hours to boost my counts. Then they brought me up to my room where I stayed for the next 10 days.
Over the course of the next 10 days I was visited by so many friends, family, and even the Valparaiso basketball team. They brought stuffed animals, food, balloons and other comfort gifts. This really made me feel at home and I appreciated each card and message that was sent to me. I felt so blessed. But I noticed that there were a lot of kids there who weren’t being visited, or receiving gifts. Some kids sat in their rooms alone without anything to keep them busy. I felt really bad for them and wanted to do something to help them. That.s when I knew I eventually wanted to do something. Over the next few months the chemo started to kick in and I got really sick. I was in bed for months and unable to go to school. I was only able to go to school a total of 5 half days for the remainder 6 months of school. Now that I finally started my maintenance phase. I am so glad to say that I am able to begin my mission.

All the Children who have cancer at Children’s have Beads of Courage. It is a string of beads that I get for everything I go through. For each procedure, blood draw, dose of chemo, etc, I get a bead to show for it. Over the course of 10 months, these are the beads I have gotten. 
 I have missed almost 100 days of school.
 I have had over 40 bags of blood and platelets.
 I have had two echocardiograms of my heart.
 I have had an MRI of my brain. 
 I had a PICC line put in my right arm for the first month of treatment for administering chemo.
 After the first month, I had surgery to have a port placed in my chest. This is where they administer the chemo every week. They do this by poking a needle through my skin into the port which is located underneath my skin. Last week we found out my port broke, so I had my port replaced and moved into my right arm. 
 I have had two trips to the Emergency room
 I have had over 30 spinal taps which is where I am put under and they take a long needle and stick it through my spinal cord and put chemo in. These cause terrible back pain for a week, most of the time it is so bad I cannot get out of bed for days. These, without a doubt, are the most painful part of my cancer treatment because they are so painful make me so sick. 
 I have stayed at the hospital for a total of about 30 nights since January
We put together "Hospital Stay Fun Kits"!
We will collect small fun items for the HOT Unit kids to help them pass their inpatient time. Over the past week, I posted pictures and stories of my time spent on the HOT Unit at Children's.  I was always very tired, sick and lethargic. We keep this in mind when picking out items for the kids. Choosing things that require little to no energy to complete and that are small enough to fit in a gift bag, such as glow sticks, play doh, silly putty, sticker books. 
I Just started my Senior year of High School !