Friday, June 20, 2014

Welcome home, Emily!

We're remiss in not reporting this news earlier.

Emily is home.

Yes, that's Emily Friar, CEO of Team Emily, who we told you about in December. One bone marrow transplant later and the future looks bright -- and healthy -- for the little girl with the contagious smile who is a big fan of the Old Dominion Lady Monarchs.

If you recall, Emily, now 10, was battling acute myeloid leukemia or AML. That's when too many white blood cells turn cancerous and multiply when they shouldn't, interfering with the body's ability to function. It's the rarest form of leukemia among children.

Because of the disease, much of Emily's 2013 and the first five months of 2014 were spent in hospitals -- Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk and Duke University Medical Center, site of the transplant back in early March.

Team Emily, approaching 6,000 likes on Facebook, is her support system -- along with parents Terry and Kelly, sister Caitlyn and extended family. We're aboard Team Emily along with Karen Barefoot and the Lady Monarchs, Dick Vitale, a Spokane, Wash., elementary school, Chesapeake Fire Station 11 ...

The Facebook page is also the spot where Terry post regular updates on Emily's progress. We won't lie. It was a long and daunting road -- one full of transfusions, fevers and waiting, lots of waiting, for platelets and hemoglobin to improve. It's impossible to put into words what this young family has battled since learning of the diagnosis last year.

You wouldn't know any of that by their attitude. The Friars didn't let Emily go through a moment of this alone -- both parents shaved their heads -- and we're overjoyed to report the family is back home in Chesapeake for good. Yes, there will still be lab tests on an outpatient basis and a return visit to Duke for a six-month transplant checkup, but Emily is no longer tied to a clunky IV.

"We are OVERJOYED to be together again, under our own roof," Terry writes. "SO happy to be home."

The best news? After 100 days, Emily's marrow/blood is 100 percent donor. That means no traces of the leukemia.

Team Emily. We told you UConn would be no match. Not the San Antonio Spurs, either. Team Emily is a winner, and we couldn't be happier.

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