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'Team Emma' buoys nine-year-old girl with brain tumour

Dec 06 2012
Community support thrills Emma Smith, 9, and her mother, Diane. 

Community support thrills Emma Smith, 9, and her mother, Diane.

Photograph by: Adrian Lam, Times Colonist , Times Colonist

Cloverdale Traditional School is full of people wearing lilac ribbons these days - a symbol of efforts to help nine-year-old Emma Smith, a Grade 4 student who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour in early October. Lilac is her favourite colour.

Emma has been undergoing treatment for the aggressive tumour in Vancouver at the B.C. Cancer Agency and B.C. Children's Hospital, so friends are raising money to help the family cover some of the added expenses that come with spending extended periods of time away from home.

The result is the "Team Emma" fundraising campaign. It's uniting parents, teachers and students at Cloverdale, and has also caught the attention of the Saanich police, thanks to Cloverdale school-liaison officer Const. Andrew Hildred.

Hildred has distributed many of the ribbons to his colleagues, and is arranging for the proceeds from a charity basketball game featuring the police to go to the Smiths.

Diane, Emma's mother, said she and Emma are in Vancouver during the week for treatment, and try to make it home on the weekends.

Dad Darrell has work commitments that sometimes take him away from home, so his parents have travelled from the United Kingdom to help look after Emma's brother, seven-year-old Charlie.

Emma, who counts school and dancing among her favourite things, said she feels fine. She said the support has been "amazing."

"We actually just discovered that a mom in the school is making bears that are the same colour as the ribbons. They're very small and they're called Emma Bears. They're just the cutest things ever."

Emma has been undergoing radiation therapy for the last several weeks, and has also been receiving chemotherapy. She has lost most of her hair.

"In the scheme of things, she's doing well," Diane said. "She hasn't really had any of the side effects that can happen."

The current round of care lasts until Dec. 11. After that, Emma gets to stay home for six weeks before returning to Vancouver for another round of chemotherapy.

The response from friends and the school to Emma's situation has meant a lot, Diane said. "It's very overwhelming. You just never would imagine being in this position, and then how everyone rallied around us as a community."

A trust account for donations has been established at Coast Capital Savings Credit Union under the name Emma Grace Smith.

Ribbons are available by donation at Pemberton Holmes, #150-805 Cloverdale Ave. Nearby Cabin 12 restaurant will be contributing $1 from every cup of coffee sold on Mondays.

On top of all that, the school is holding Pyjama Day on Friday, said principal Renee Pick. Everyone is encouraged to wear pyjamas, and donations will be collected for Emma.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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