Ep. 10: Emelia's Fight Story

This morning we welcome Emelia Graham to the Fight Club. Emelia was diagnosed with a brain tumour when she was four. Now, it is nearly 20 years later; however, Emelia continues to cope with the long-term effects of her treatment. Yet, Emelia remains positive. She is a beautiful role model among the survivor community.
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When Emelia was diagnosed, her doctors did not think she would survive. At this point, technology and resources for Emelia's type of tumour were limited. Emelia refers to herself as a "trial" kid - they tested a lot of different treatments, some that worked and some that didn't. Eventually, Emelia defied all the odds against her. She is a brain tumour survivor. 
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Emelia received so many rounds of chemotherapy and radiation that she can't even count. Still to this day, Emelia feels the impacts of this treatment on her life, both physically and psychologically.
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Emelia recalls spending a lot of her childhood at SickKids receiving treatment for her brain tumour and its many complications. When Emelia was able to go to school, she struggled. Emelia had a hard time grasping the basics of reading and writing. She also couldn't participate in French, among many other things that her classmates were able to do.
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Despite these challenges, Emelia remains grateful to her community, especially her school, for supporting her throughout her journey. No matter what, they were there for her.
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As Emelia has grown older, she has seen the world from a new lens. She knows that her stamina is not the same as her peers, but that does not mean she is capable of any less. Emelia has learned how to utilize her strengths and appreciate her differences. She recognizes her ability to help people - with and without cancer - achieve their full potential.
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When Emelia was growing up, she recalls her experiences at camp. She loves camp. Emelia first attended Campfire Circle - formerly known as Camp Ooch - at 6. Campfire Circle is a camp specifically for kids with cancer. This experience allowed Emelia to feel like a "normal" kid. She attended camp until 18 when she was no longer eligible to attend.
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Emelia is now 23 and is struggling to navigate adulthood as a brain tumour survivor. When Emelia turned 18, she outgrew SickKids. So, now she has doctors and appointments across 5 different hospitals. For Emelia, this has not been easy to manage. Before, she was used to having everything centralized; she knew all her doctors and nurses and never had to re-tell her story or explain anything.
POGO has helped Emelia with these challenges, helping her organize and manage all her documents, doctor's appointments and other concerns.
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Emelia has been through something unimaginable, yet, she never ceases to have a huge smile on her face. Emelia advises others: "it's ok to be different and that you can only do something to the best of your abilities." This is the motto Emelia has lived by.
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With the help of POGO's School and Work Transitions Program, Emelia attended college. She attended a program called Community Integration through Co-operative Education (CICE) at Mohawk College. She graduated from this program with a certificate - with honours. Emelia loved this experience and is incredibly grateful for this fantastic educational opportunity.
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Currently, Emelia is in the process of looking for jobs, but she loves making cards and Christmas tags. So, in the meantime, she hopes to make a side job of doing that - something she loves. She already has big clients. Her best friend is getting married, and she made all of the wedding invitations!
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Eventually, Emelia would love to find a job working with kids or the elderly. She loves working with people and making a difference in the lives of others.
Last year, Emelia also scored a job with the POGO Survivor-to-Survivor network. Specifically, Emelia got to craft her very own program and share her experience with a group of other survivors. Emelia focused on the topic of college and helping other survivors navigate their pathway to college.
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Thank you, Emelia, for sharing your story. Emelia's story is inspiring, and we are incredibly grateful for her willingness to share. Emelia's story also highlights some vital work that POGO's Survivor-to-Survivor (S2S) Network does for survivors like Emelia.
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POGO recognizes survivors as the experts in their journey. The S2S Network is a special series of free presentations where survivor facilitators present helpful information, lead discussions and share personal experiences about a variety of survivorship topics. Check out this year's presentations.
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