Imagine having your child diagnosed with two deadly diseases in a month's time. That is what happened to the Wheeler family. Emma Wheeler of Bismarck was diagnosed with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) in September of 2017, and anaplastic large cell lymphoma in October of 2017. Fifty-nine days after first setting foot in the hospital, and without ever having had the opportunity to go home, Emma moved to heaven on November 14, 2017.
From the moment that the Wheelers received the news that Emma may have cancer, they left Bismarck for treatment. Emma and her mom, Becki, traveled by ambulance, while Becki’s husband, Rex, drove. They didn’t have much packed because their focus was on Emma. They left their careers, their home, and their life as they had known it in order to help Emma in her fight.
Treatment was extremely hard on Emma. Her body wouldn’t respond to chemo or steroids. She lost 45 pounds in the first three weeks of treatment. Being 14, she worried about losing her hair. She asked her friends if they would still be her friends if she didn’t have any hair. Her friends said that they would still be by her side with no hair. Emma became very weak. Many days she couldn’t stand without assistance. She missed her friends, her cherished dogs, and everything about her what her life was like only weeks before.
Emma always had a smile! She rarely complained about pain; through chemo, all the lumbar punctures, surgeries, x-rays, exams, and the list could go on and on! Emma was the highlight of the floor! She was the fun room! She laughed and entertained and the family celebrated every win!
When asked what she misses most about Emma, Becki said, “EVERYTHING! There isn’t enough space to reflect on what I miss. Her smile that lit up a room, her laugh that would echo through the house, her hanging on our shoulders because she was getting so tall! We also miss the ‘we-will-never-have-moments’ like Sweet 16, band concerts, high school graduation, college, boyfriends, fiance, wife, mom, grandkids and more.”
“Emma moved to Heaven and our earthly lives as we lived them are forever changed.” says Emma’s mom, Becki. Emma had a heart of gold, a passion for others, for animals, and she wanted to change the world. At Brave the Shave, we believe that through her legacy, she is doing just that.