Mom Says Her Daughter's Battle With Cancer Has Taught Her 'Bravery & Strength'
A mom wrote a moving piece on Love What Matters to raise awareness around childhood cancer.
No parent expects their child to have to fight cancer. For a mom named Lauren Ouzts, her daughter Emma's battle began with eyebrow-raising blood in the toilet that she mistook for menstruation.
Ouzts explained in a piece on Love What Matters that Emma had been in the bathroom with her aunt. "I knew it wasn’t me, but didn’t know if it was my sister or not because, well, as a female you know that happens around your time of the month," she wrote. "‘Can you flush?’ I asked her. She looked at me, confused. It wasn’t her time of the month. ‘That didn’t come from me.’ That’s when little Emma spoke up and said, ‘Mommy, I did that.’"
The concerned mom said that of course, she began to worry. "I was asking her everything from, ‘Did you fall and hit yourself down there?’ to ‘Has someone touched you,'" she recalled. "All to which the answer was no. It was getting later into the night. Around bedtime we always use the bathroom before we lay down. Once again, Emma peed blood and clots. At that point, we decided to take her to the ER." There doctors "checked her out and decided it was a really bad UTI and gave her Tylenol and antibiotics."
But she continued to pee blood here and there during the week, and by Friday, it seemed she was 100 percent recovered. "On Sunday morning, I woke up to get ready to go to church," Ouzts recalled. "When I woke my daughter, she was sweating but cold. Suddenly, she began screaming and crying in pain. At this point, she was also showing signs of a fever. So, we rushed her back to the ER. We told them about the past week and that she had just finished the antibiotics. They checked her belly the doctor had a clear look of concern on her face."
An ultrasound was required, during which Ouzts said she could tell something was off. "Jokingly, I said, ‘Emma, looks like you have alien monsters in there,’" she noted. "That got a little smile from her. We went back to the room to wait for the doctor to read the ultrasound. Once again, it seemed like forever. Emma was still in pain and crying. When your baby hurts like that, it hurts your soul."
Emma required a CT scan, as well, after which the little girl was diagnosed with a Wilms tumor, a rare form of kidney cancer. She underwent a surgery to have the tumor removed, and then began chemotherapy and antibiotics.
"Around the beginning of month two of chemo, her beautiful red, curly hair started to fall out as I was brushing it," Ouzts noted. "I cried." But Emma's response was incredibly brave: "She noticed and told me, ‘Mommy, it’s just hair. It will grow back,’" the proud mom wrote.
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Emma "then started to wear floppy Sunday hats for her balding head," Ouzts shared. "She absolutely loved getting to go shopping with her great grandma for those hats. ... Unfortunately, she was having to miss a lot, from swimming during the summer to not being able to trick or treat, to missing a lot of school. But she did give and get lots of cuddles! On her good days, she was able to go out in public and do small things. She did do a few photos shoots and said she felt like a princess those days."
Last December, around Emma's birthday, doctors found spots on her lungs. "They are keeping a close eye on them to make sure they don’t change and so far they haven’t," Ouzts wrote. "Because of those spots, she has to go every month for blood work and scans instead of every three months. Her last scans still looked the same, so that’s a plus! But her urine had blood cells in it, which of course put us in panic mode."
At the end of next month, Emma will have her next scans and tests. "We will be going from there," Ouzts said. But the good news: Her daughter is "currently in remission."
Ouzts admitted, "We all still go through the emotional part of it all. Depression and anxiety has hit me hard, but I’ve had a few other medical families help us through it. All the prayers have been greatly felt and appreciated. Emma has shown us what it is to be brave and strong, not only physically but faithfully and mentally."
The loving mom encourages others to donate to local charities for childhood cancer. "These charities help families like mine in so many ways, on so many levels," she wrote. "The local charities give back more than the big commercialized ones and they take the time to get to know us on a deeper level."
With hope, Emma will only continue to get stronger and healthier. No doubt the bravery she's shown so far is truly an inspiration.