Survivor since 2002_It was May 31, 2002. Emmaline was 8 weeks old. She had been projectile vomiting for two days. Wendy took her to the pediatrician who guessed she was just being fussy. The next morning after a particularly difficult night, Emmaline basically lost consciousness in Wendy’s arms. We raced to our pediatrician and within one hour we were on a plane to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. Emmaline was experiencing inter-cranial hemorrhaging and had massive head pressure.When we arrived in SLC, her neurosurgeon, Dougals Brockmeyer operated immediately and said he was not able to determine exactly what was happening but guessed that she had some type of vascular malformation that had ruptured causing a massive bleed. Our focus turned to helping Emmaline make it through the night. Wendy, being the consummate combination of teacher and mother, prepared for Emmaline’s arrival at ICU by asking staff if they had any children’s books that we could read bedside to our sedated daughter. One of the books she found was Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hears a Who.”As we read the book to Emmaline that night, we both began crying at the story, the characters and the message. Horton is an elephant who discovers an entire town of Who’s that are so small they live on a dust speck. The Who’s are in serious trouble and they call out for help, but the only one that can hear them is Horton the Elephant (because of his large ears). The book is about Horton’s fight to help the tiny Who’s of Whoville even though no one believes they even exist. His motto is, “A person’s a person no matter how small.” True to his word, “From sun in the summer, and rain when it’s fallish, I’m going to protect them no matter how smallish.”, Horton prevails and all ends well. As you can imagine, Horton became an instant Hultman classic. We read it to her every night until her last chemotherapy treatment some two years later.But wait, there’s more…Emmaline was diagnosed with a grade 4 Glial brain tumor on June 4, 2002, my wife’s 31st birthday. Dr. Carol Bruggers, a nuturing and compassionate pediatric oncologist at Primary Children’s told us chemotherapy and surgery were viable treatment options while radiation was not recommended for children under three. We sought additional opinions from other pathologists and oncology centers such as St. Jude and Duke to help us decide the best course of treatment for our little Wiggleworm. When Emmaline was moved from ICU to the oncology floor, we were amazed to discover a beautiful framed poster in Emmlaine’s room that was a photograph of a young circus girl with her arm around an elephant. Both elephant and girl were facing away from the camera, but the image was so powerful for us because it represented the vision of our future with Emmaline and the coincidence with our Horton theme was surreal. As the day approached when we had to make a decision about where we were going for Emmaline’s treatment, I stared at the print hoping an answer would come to me that would guide us in our decision. The elephant and the girl were facing east. Did that mean we should relocate our family to Tennessee to get treatment at St. Jude? Or maybe it meant we should go to Duke located closer to the east coast? Or should we continue our current course ? I looked closer, the answer had to be there… Then a moment of clarity came to me. I called Wendy over to look at my discovery. Two muddy boots standing in front of the elephant. The elephant was not facing east, the elephant was facing the girl’s father who was standing in front of them but was blocked by the girth of the elephant. The date was June 16, 2002, Father’s Day. It was at that moment that Wendy and I were at peace with our decision to stay in Salt Lake City. When we were discharged from the hospital for the first time later in July, the hospital gave us the poster and it now hangs above our bed. A daily visual reminder of our dream to have Emmaline grow up into the child she is today. We are among the fortunate who are living our dream on a daily basis. We found a stuffed Horton for her that has accompanied her into every MRI, every hospitalization for chemotherapy, and her neurosurgeon even let Horton go with Emmaline into the operating room for her major resection surgery on July 31, 2002! Needless to say Emmaline has received more than a few stuffed animal elephants over the years. Every time we return to SLC for treatments or follow-up MRI’s, we visit the elephant’s at the Utah Zoo. To celebrate her completion of treatment, we took her to San Diego to see the baby elephant at the Wild Animal Park of the San Diego Zoo.


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