Family treasures

The Mooreside family treats every day as a gift after daughter Emily survives battle with cancer

Kyle and Emily Mooreside are close siblings having shared Emily's cancer experience.

Kyle and Emily Mooreside are close siblings having shared Emily's cancer experience.

Life is a journey. No one knows that better than the Mooreside family.

With Emily two years chemotherapy-free, the family of four, Pam, Shawn, Kyle and Emily treasure each moment they have together, never taking anything for granted.

When two-year-old Emily was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in June 2006, the family headed down a dark and scary road with an unknown end.

Emily was barely hanging onto life as she was flown to Vancouver Children’s Hospital.

“It was very surreal,” Pam said.

“All we could focu on was how do we make her well.

“Even telling my parents didn’t seem real.”

After a bone-marrow biopsy, her diagnosis came with an estimated three years of chemotherapy, including oral and intravenous as well as injections in her spine.

“Emily had in-the-moment reactions to procedures, she was only two years old,” Pam said.

“Her cancer and the treatments were our new reality.”

Pam said throughout the experience, the family was realistic but optimistic.

“We needed to stay strong for Emily and for Kyle, he remembers everything,” she said.

“Our life revolved around Emily, her treatments and the world of treatments.

“We all experienced death at the hospital as children around Emily died.

“With Kyle, we had to be aware and respond to his journey through Emily’s cancer. He had needs of his own and some had nothing to do with cancer.”

In the two years since completing her chemo treatments, Emily has no signs of cancer or the ordeal she’s been through.

“Shawn and I both agree we thought we had it all together before Emily’s cancer, but now we don’t take anything for granted, each and every day with our children is a gift and Shawn and I are closer than ever before.”

She said she’s seen a lot of couples fall apart when faced with this kind of challenge.

“It tests your strength and forces the boundaries,” she admitted.

“And people react to stress differently, but it’s essential parents pull together at times like this.”

As for Emily, Pam said she’s mature in ways her peers aren’t.

“She’s bright, full of energy and because of what she’s gone through, Emily’s resilience not only helped during her cancer treatments but is serving her well with her post-cancer medical issues,” Pam said with pride.

“People can’t tell by looking at her what she’s been through.”

Because she was so small, Emily has few memories of the experience but her mother said slowly she’s exploring her experience.

“Memories are surfacing and we talk about it as she recalls those details.”

Emily has launched back into life and enjoys playing hockey and Pam said they may possibly add gymnastics.

“She’s really strong and sees no limits, even cancer isn’t a limitation.”

Pam said Kyle, who’s now 10 years old, is also old beyond his years.

“He still worries Emily will get sick again. He’s still a boy but he’s matured in ways others his age haven’t.”

“He’s protective, loving, has great leadership skills and very helpful.”

With a tear in her eye, Pam said Kyle is a fine young man.

When contemplating what she’d say to other parents facing enormous challenges, Pam said to stay positive and strong.

“Be together as a family and ask lots of questions. Tap into community resources and never be afraid to accept the comfort, assistance and support, even from those you don’t know.”

Pam reflected on the three years the family spent supporting Emily in her battle with cancer.

“There’s a sense of loss for the years spent battling the disease, but we turn that feeling to joy in knowing Emily is still here, a family treasure.”

Quesnel’s Relay For Life celebrates survivors such as Emily Mooreside. This year’s Relay is May 26 in LeBourdais Park. For information contact Michelle Godfrey, 250-983-8815, quesnelrelay@bc.cancer.ca.ca or Cathy Briggs, 250-747-2510, cbriggs@bc.cancer.ca.