Local Mother Raises Awareness for Children’s Cancer Research After Daughter’s Diagnosis

For Immediate Release
Erin Richey
(240) 235-2272 | erin.richey@curesearch.org

To empower other parents and caregivers, Mary Kay Pederson participates in CureSearch Superheroes Unite!

Portage, MI – When Mary Kay’s daughter, Emma, was 3 years old, she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a type of children’s cancer that accounts for 25% of all cancers in children under the age of 15. After spending 13 days in the hospital, enduring surgery to place a port in her chest and chemotherapy shortly after, Emma was discharged the day before her 4th birthday.

“We came home feeling completely drained, defeated, scared and in shock. We celebrated her birthday the next morning under a shadow of doubt of how many more we would get with our precious girl.”

The next 2 years and 7 months of Emma’s treatment was filled with emotional ups and downs as Mary Kay navigated motherhood, making sure she gave attention to her other 18 month old daughter and was also a center of strength and encouragement for Emma.

“Watching my little girl endure the painful side effects of chemotherapy and limiting her ability to be a kid was the most difficult set of circumstances I have ever been faced with as an adult. “

During this time, Mary Kay was grateful to receive much-needed support from family and close friends, and she was inspired to start her own nonprofit to address the importance of support and services for families battling pediatric cancer.

Emma Pederson, Acute Lymphoblastic LeukemiaEmma’s superhero smile during treatment.

She was also introduced to CureSearch after one of Emma’s oncologists, Dr. Lobel, told her about an upcoming Walk. She joined her first Walk in 2011, a year after Emma was diagnosed, and she’s had a team – Emma’s Fighting Stars – every year since. She even joined the planning committee in 2012.

“CureSearch offers a chance to take control back, by getting involved with the local walk, educating yourself about the cancer diagnosis, empowering the parent or caregiver to fight back with knowledge about what their child is experiencing.”

On July 9, 2012, Emma took her last chemo pill and was officially declared cancer-free. She’s now a 10-year-old 5th grader who loves singing, music, spending time with cousins and friends, and being healthy.

“Emma is a superhero because she never asked, ‘why me’ and she did what her nurses and doctors asked of her with a smile. She was strong when she could have been fragile; she was sweet when she had every right to angry; she was an inspiration, when she just wanted to be a kid.”

Emma Pederson, Acute Lymphoblastic LeukemiaEmma inspires other superheroes with her positive spirit.

Mary Kay, Emma and their team will be at the Superheroes Unite! event on May 20th, 9 am, at Celery Flats in Portage, Michigan. They will be joined by many others who are committed to finding better, less toxic treatments for children diagnosed with cancer.

“When I feel helpless, when I feel like I can’t make a difference, I think about how I am involved with CureSearch and I am reminded, that we all are making a difference.”

The entire community is invited to attend and celebrate true superheroes like Emma. Register at www.curesearchsuperheroes.org/swmi.


CureSearch for Children’s Cancer

CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, a national nonprofit organization based in Bethesda, Md, works to end childhood cancer by driving targeted and innovative research with measurable results in an accelerated time frame. CureSearch is building a $10 million research pipeline to aggressively drive pediatric research grants and clinical trials that have a higher chance of becoming cures for children’s cancer without the toxic side effects that plague current treatment options.

For more information, visit curesearch.org or www.curesearchsuperheroes.org, follow CureSearch on Twitter @curesearch or join the conversation on Facebook at www.facebook.com/curesearch.


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