A high school junior from Michigan named Emma Burkholder is making national headlines for her gasp-worthy, extremely admirable decision to be homeschooled this school year. Although it means missing out on major milestones of high school, like junior prom, Emma wants to stay home to help her mom Jennifer Burkholder, 42. Jennifer, who was paralyzed from the waist down at just 18 years old and has since been in a wheelchair, was diagnosed in July with not one but two types of breast cancer: inflammatory breast cancer and invasive ductal carcinoma.
Upon receiving the diagnosis, the family learned that the cancer had spread to Jennifer's lymph nodes but not her organs. Chemo has left her particularly weak, struggling to care for herself and requiring extra wheelchair assistance.
“Because my mom is one of my best friends, it was very hard for me, and you know when someone gets diagnosed with cancer, you immediately think that they’re not going make it. ... I know that if something were to happen, I know what to do, whereas a nurse or something may not know the specifics of my mom,” Emma told local news outlet WWTV/WWUP-TV. “I would gladly give up this little part of my life to help my mom.”
Emma's father Kevin Burkholder elaborated, “That way somebody would be home for Jen because sometimes she has problems falling out of her chair and just to have somebody here like Emma that knows Jennifer and knows all of her elements and things that happen. It’s a peace of mind."
The decision will also allow Kevin to continue working to pay for medical bills, travel, and to support their family of five.
In the meantime, Jennifer has been posting frequent video updates to social media, sharing updates from the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Chicago.
Props to this devoted daughter for her selfless act. Though, as heartwarming as it is to see a teen do this for her mom, it's truly unfortunate that the cost of health care and fighting cancer is so high as to require a sacrifice like this.
To support the Burkholders in their fight, you can visit their donate page on Facebook, set up by a family friend.