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C4S: Can you explain what type of cancer you were diagnosed with?
Emma: I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, bone cancer, in my left leg.
C4S: How did you find out you had sarcoma?
Emma: I started feeling a difference in my leg. It was hurting when I did sports and stuff like that. I then saw that it was swelling up so we went to the doctor to get an X-Ray and MRI. That’s when they told me I had osteosarcoma.
I first found I had cancer within a day, but then I had surgery to find out which cancer it was. That took about a week.
C4S: What was your initial reaction to finding out you had cancer?
Emma: I didn’t really know what it was at first, so I didn’t know how serious it was. It wasn’t really a big deal for me when I didn’t know just how serious it was. But then I found out what I had to go through and I was pretty shocked.
C4S: Were you scared, anxious, nervous?
Emma: I think all of those…(laughs)
C4S: Did it take time to adjust to this completely new situation?
Emma: It definitely did. I wasn’t at my house, and I wasn’t going to school so I didn’t have any of my friends around. That was pretty hard to get used to.
C4S: How long were you in hospital for?
Emma: I was living in Shanghai at the time but came to Singapore to get treatment for eight months. We rented a serviced apartment and every three weeks I’d go in to hospital for 4 days of chemotherapy.
C4S: Did you have a favourite doctor or nurse who looked after you?
Emma: Yeah, Nurse Nelly. She was really nice. She gave me all my shots, so I didn’t really like her after that (laughs) but she was really nice about it, and got me through it every time. She’d just tell me ‘Emma you have to do this and then it’ll be over’. She was blunt and just pushed me to do it.
C4S: Did you ever get visits?
Emma: A few of my friends from Shanghai did come and visit me. My school raised money for some of my friends to fly in. I knew they were coming and so it was really exciting.
C4S: Dominique mentioned that the support around her made her a stronger person, would you agree with a statement like that?
Emma: Yes, definitely. I wouldn’t have got through it as graciously without my family and friends. Before I had cancer i didn’t really know what was out there, and was kind of sheltered from everything going on. Cancer has definitely made me a stronger person.
C4S: What was your routine at hospital?
Emma: I would go in and they would put a needle in my port. Then everyday they’d give me a treatment of chemo, and it would make me sick. And I couldn’t eat anything. The treatment lasted 4 days.
C4S: What was the hardest part about the whole process from finding out you had cancer to where you are now?
Emma: The hardest part would probably be getting used to a prosthetic leg and having to relearn everything, like walking. And re learning how to move in a specific way that makes it easier for me.
C4S: When you found out you were going to lose your leg, how did you react?
Emma: I didn’t know that I was going to have to lose my leg. It was a big shock and I was really nervous. I was in shock for a couple of days before it really set in that I wasn’t going to have my leg after.
C4S: Did people treat you differently?
Emma: At school, people would go easy on me in sports, and they’d be careful around me. I’d rather people just treat me like everyone else. But once people get to know me they don’t even notice that my leg is any different.
C4S: Who helped you get through the ordeal?
Emma: Mostly my mum because she was there every time I went to the hospital. My whole family too , my Grandma and Grandpa, came out from Denmark to stay with me.
C4S: How does your leg impact you day to day?
Emma: Usually it doesn’t impact me as much as people would think, because I’ve had to learn to do things that other people can do and I can do most things now. But especially running, I have a hard time with that.
C4S: Do you have an idol? Someone who inspires you to keep pushing boundaries?
Emma: Well I’m a swimmer, so Michael Phelps.
C4S: What are your thoughts on Crutch4Sarcoma and the campaign?
Emma: I really love what Dominique’s doing, that she’s continuing to raise awareness for sarcoma even though she’s studying.
C4S: Do you think ‘the forgotten cancer’ is a good way to describe sarcoma?
Emma: I definitely do think it’s a good description. When people think of cancer, they think of brain cancer, of lung cancer. When I say ‘sarcoma’, they don’t know what it is so I have to explain.
C4S: You mentioned you’re a swimmer, do you have any dreams?
Emma: I swim five times a week, and that’s the minimum you have to swim for my swim team at least! I really want to strive towards being a Paralympic swimmer. I would love to be part of the Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020.
C4S: Do you have a favourite stroke?
Emma: I prefer backstroke. It’s more relaxing and I feel like I can do it for hundreds of meters and not get that tired.
C4S: Final question, we promise! Would you be interested in being an ambassador for sarcoma in the future?
Emma: I certainly would still want to be part of raising awareness for sarcoma in the future, even though I want to do so many other things. But I would still definitely want to be part of it.
A VERY BIG THANK YOU TO EMMA, RORY FLANAGAN AND JAMIE INGHAM FOR MAKING THIS PROJECT HAPPEN