“I don’t want you leaving this saying how inspirational I am unless you are inspired and motivated to do something”. Emily Remission Possible.
For Emily inspiration wasn’t simply a sentiment – inspiration meant action. Collected here are a few stories on how one girl from Cwmbran touched and inspired the lives of other through her fight with cancer and zest for life.
How Emily inspired me to live passionately
I had the privilege of being Emily’s French teacher for three years. She was hardworking and creative and she approached all tasks and challenges with humour and optimism. Emily was one of those very rare students who is prepared to say ‘yes’ without hesitation to all learning opportunities and she inspired those around her to participate too. Emily’s French essays were an exciting jumble of adventurous vocabulary and structures and her thoughts often sparked new teaching ideas in me. She independently studied the cultural side of the subject and she would come to lessons with questions about French musicians and other aspects of French life. I recall our GCSE revision classes with great fondness. Our French conversations with mugs of tea and biscuits were often the highlight of my working week.
I always knew that Emily’s true passion lay in the field of science, but she also had a flair for language learning and an aptitude for communication with others.
Emily was very lucky to have known from a young age what her purpose was. She was clear about what she wanted to do with her life and pursued her interests with great passion and determination. She worked hard to create opportunities to follow her dreams and pushed herself to master the necessary skills. Just before her illness, Emily asked me to fill out an application form for a University science course and to be her referee. I was delighted when her application was successful and even more excited to hear about her first few sessions. She was unable to finish the course because of her illness, but inevitably took matters into her own hands by chatting to doctors and specialists who were treating her at the time. Her own illness became her field of academic interest and she visited me during her treatment to talk about the research that she was doing and the doctors who sounded delighted to answer her detailed questions. She was never prepared to give up on her dreams despite the obstacles and this has been a source of great inspiration to me particularly in my pastoral work in school. Emily’s energy, her creative fundraising ideas and her drive to encourage people to join the bone marrow donor register also amazed me. Even when she was very ill, she continued to raise money and awareness for the cause. Each idea bore its own unique Emily stamp.
In school, Emily and I worked on a series of cancer awareness and fundraising lessons which have been written into our key stage three schemes of work. Pupils in my year group asked if they could bake cakes to raise money because Emily’s story had inspired them to try to make a difference.
Emily knew that to make the best of her time on this planet she needed to follow her passions and realise her sense of purpose. She knew to aim high and was determined to succeed. Emily’s passionate life should be a source of inspiration to us all and for those of us who were lucky to have known her personally, our memories of her will encourage us to find our path and to stick to it despite life’s obstacles.
Emily inspired me to live my life
I’ve known Emily since year 7 when we both started in Croesyceiliog school, but I first met her when I attended an induction day at Llanyrafon primary School where she was the first pupil there to take me under her wing and show me around and when starting Croesyceiliog she certainly did not forget me. The thing about Emily, is she is selfless. She spends far more time thinking about other people than she does ever thinking about herself. I have never met anyone quite like Emily, even at the hardest time of her life she was still smiling and never contemplated ‘giving up’. This concept ‘giving up’ is something I have selfishly had experience with.
In 2012 I got diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. Though the subject may be quite controversial I was rapidly losing my battle to a vicious mental illness in which I had no idea I was even fighting. Doctors told me I was the worst case they had seen in a very long time because the time from the onset of the illness to serious malnutrition was only weeks. The illness got a hold of me and was determined to gain my life. When I was diagnosed in March that year, my BMI was 18 but by Easter it dropped to 15. I was emitted to the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport after losing consciousness and once emitted my BMI dropped to 12. Within only a few weeks as an outpatient I reached 3 stone which made my BMI 9.
As you know, food fuels you, not only to have energy for day to day physical tasks, but it also fuels your mind so you are able to make decisions. However due to severe malnutrition on my second emittion to the hospital only a month after my first emittion, my parents were told I had only hours. Unable to think at all, all decisions were taken out of my parents and my own hands. I wanted it all to end at this point. I was sick of the pain. The ongoing battling with myself and my mind and sick of all the hospitals being controlled and forced to do things I did not want to do and Ana definitely did not want me to do. I spent the night of 15th May 2012 on a heart monitor and it was to everyone else a waiting game of hope, but to me a waiting game of relief for the pain to end and for me to find peace.
I woke the next morning. After the doctors failed to insert a NG tube correctly, I began taking meal supplements and something inside me knew I had to try because I had been given a second chance, and it was not for nothing.
In July I returned to school. I was only allowed to go in for one lesson, but sadly it fell on physics on period 5 on a Friday afternoon. I was in Emily’s science class and remember how afraid I was going back into school, looking very different and much chubbier. Nobody that day spoke to me or even acknowledged my return to school, like nobody knew I had been away, except Emily. I remember her every so loudly saying “IT’S PAIGE, PAIGE IS BACK!”.
In 2014, I relapsed. The illness was not as severe as before but it was more of a personal punishment to myself for getting well. I saw myself as weak and disgusting. Emily had been diagnosed with non-hodgkin lymphoma. I was devastated to hear this news; Emily was so intelligent she had an incredible life to live an she did not deserve to become ill. However, Emily never seemed to be sad. Whenever I spoke to Emily I always felt positive even though this was the hardest time of Emily’s life, she was always happy on the outside even if not on the inside. I never once seen Emily cry. In fact, I remember her telling me once, her consultant told her she should expect a break down in later years because of all the stress and strain on her the cancer had put. However, she told me how she thought they were talking complete and utter rubbish. She told me she felt fine, because she knew the doctors were doing all they could and there was nothing she could do than stay positive. She said there was no point moping about having cancer because that wouldn’t make the cancer go away any faster. This is Emily. She’s smart and did not want to waste any time feeling down about what she was going through, she’d rather use her strength to help others and help make a change for others. Emily may have been hurting, but she never showed me she was.
Emily would do anything to have been healthy. She never chose to be ill but I felt I had and I felt selfish. I often wished I could have given her my health. Emily did not deserve to be sick because she had such a healthy mind and she looked after herself so well because she knew so much about the body. When I reached 18, I always told myself I would discharge myself from the outpatient unit to hide from my problems, and to deny my illness even though I knew I had relapsed I didn’t want to get well. However, I didn’t. This time I sat my mum down and told her I needed help again. This is something I could never have done before. I knew I needed to get well because I realise how lucky I am and I needed to do it for Emily even if not for myself. Emily did not get down, and what she was going through was much much worse than anything I could experience. If Emily can stay this positive, then so can I.
I do not know anybody who has or could go through all Emily went through and still stay positive. Her faith and hope never faded and her fight was strong enough to form an entire army. But Emily did sometimes worry about missing school. As I had experienced this too, I told Emily that school should be the least of her worries. I realised your health is more important than anything else because if you don’t have health then nothing is guaranteed.
Emily gave me hope. She made me change how I thought about life without even saying anything. Emily saved me by just being Emily and just doing what she does best. Emily’s strength to push on at the most difficult times truly inspired me and Emily gave me what years of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, anti-psychotics and psychiatrists failed to.
I am not on medication, I am not seeing a therapist, I am free from hospital I am getting well again. I did not do this alone. Emily is my daily reminder that life is worth living. I will live my life for Emily Clark.