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Cycling To Save Kids’ Lives

18-Sep-2023 17:32 | Cassidy Lau (Administrator)

Every year thousands of Australians take part in the Great Cycle Challenge to raise vital funds for cancer research but this year it has taken a very personal turn – as five-year-old ambassador Emily recently died just six months after her cancer diagnosis.

The Great Cycle Challenge is a major fundraiser for the work done at Children’s Medical Research Institute in Westmead. Since 2013 riders have raised more than $38 million to help scientists work on a personalised approach to cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Earlier this year Emily was announced as an official ambassador after being diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma only six months ago. Her diagnosis came after recurring stomach pain, appetite loss, and a sudden limp that developed overnight. Emily’s parents pushed for a scan of her abdomen, which showed a large tumour the size of a grapefruit, on her kidney.

GCC manager Rachel Tanner said that Emily’s parents, Emma and Brodie, were honoured when Emily was chosen as an ambassador.

“The general public is completely unaware how cruel and gruelling childhood cancer treatment is,” Ms Tanner said. “In sharing their stories, our brave ambassadors play a vital role in highlighting the need for better treatments.”

Emily’s Mum, Emma, said that “Emily was the picture of childhood happiness, yet she endured a nightmare beyond comprehension. She fought so hard, and she beat stage 4 metastatic cancer. That’s the hardest part to accept: it wasn’t the cancer that took her life; it was the treatment.”

Emily subsequently underwent major surgery, preceded by multiple rounds of chemotherapy and countless tests, scans, and painful procedures. She was declared cancer-free before her bone marrow transplant.  

Unfortunately, the high dose chemotherapy that Emily received completely destroyed her immune system. During her transplant, Emily developed a rare infection that travelled to her brain and caused multiple aneurysms. After three days in ICU, she died in her parents’ arms in the hospital garden.

Ms Tanner said Emily’s parents were adamant that Emily remained an ambassador as an important part of her legacy.

Despite everything Emily endured, she maintained her sass and her sense of humour. In her short time with us, she taught us more about life and love, and resilience and strength, than we would have ever learned without her,” said Emily’s Dad, Brodie.

“That’s why we support GCC—to honour Emily’s memory and to help improve the lives of all Australian children living with this terrible disease.”

This year we are calling on Australians to sign up, choose how many kilometres they’d like to do throughout the month of October and ride in honour of Emily.

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