Every mom and dad’s worst nightmare is that something bad should befall their child.
Sadly, there are things in this world that simply cannot be protected against.
Cancer is a horrible disease that causes millions of deaths every year. Unfortunately a portion of those relate to young children.
Now, a whole community in Wisconsin is mourning the loss of a beloved and dog-loving 8-year-old girl, Emma Mertens.
Emma, who was battling a rare brain tumor, died on Sunday, according to a post on the “Emma Loves Dogs” Facebook page.
In February, Emma Mertens’ story went viral on social media after her family requested letters and photos of dogs – to boost her spirits during a difficult time. Emma was fighting for her life after being diagnosed with a rare and inoperable brain tumor, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG).
Her family offered the following information about their daughter’s deadly disease:
“Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) is a type of tumor that starts in the brain stem, the part of the brain just above the back of the neck and connected to the spine. The brain stem controls breathing, heart rate and the nerves and muscles that help us see, hear, walk, talk and eat. Unfortunately, the survival rate for DIPG remains very low. At this time there is no cure.”
After the family’s plea, the young girl received more than 75,000 letters from 50 countries.
“You should see her smile or giggle,” Geoff, Emma’s dad, told USA Today.
“She’s a huge fan of larger dogs … but she loves the pictures that come up with just funny and cute dogs. When a dog is doing something silly she just lights up.”
The family was interviewed by “Good Morning America” on Feb. 2 and their heartbreaking story spread around the world.
And it wasn’t just cute pictures of dogs that gave Emma the energy to fight against the horrible brain cancer.
In March, police across her home state wanted to do something more for Emma. They gave her an extra special surprise when 35 K-9 teams from around the state of Wisconsin lined the street leading to her home.
“Emma was completely surprised and just smiling the whole time as a parade of police cars and dogs lined the neighborhood,” Geoff said in March.
To celebrate her 8th birthday, Emma’s parents founded the Emma Loves Dogs Foundation, with a mission of providing “financial assistance to organizations that share Emma’s passion for helping animals, such as police K-9 units and no-kill animal shelters.”
Tragically, just a few months after the organization was founded, Emma passed away. The Team Emma Facebook page announced that she died Nov. 17 in the arms of her parents, Geoff and Tammy.
“She fought so hard but it was time to go home and leave the pain behind,” the Facebook post stated.
“In her final hours, we told her how many people love her and that it was OK to go. We will miss her dearly.”
A neighbor posted the following statement on Emma’s passing:
“Emma has earned her angel wings. We knew this time was coming but nothing could prepare us for this loss. We are still in disbelief that she was born on this earth to become an angel so soon but in her short time on this earth she changed lives. She taught us to love deeply, live each moment to its fullest, and most importantly be kind. What a beautiful difference one single life made. I’m honored to call her our chosen family and will forever be broken until we meet again on the other side. Rest In Peace sweet girl.”
The family is now vying to keep Emma’s memory alive through her foundation.
”In lieu of gifts and flowers, We are asking that you keep Emma’s memory alive by supporting her foundation at www.emmalovesdogs.org. Through all of this battle, all Emma wanted to do was spread kindness and help animals,” her Facebook page stated.
Prayers for this beautiful young lady and her family – I’m so sorry for your loss, Emma has made an impact on many people’s lives, RIP!