Project Description

Emily & Banshee

At four years old, Emily was diagnosed with cancer. Before her fifteenth birthday, she had contracted cancer three times. When a child should be developing emotionally and socially, Emily had to live in a sterile environment undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and bone marrow transplants. She didn’t get to go out and play like other children. Even hugs from her family could only be given through sterile hospital gowns, surgical masks and gloves. As if isolation, toxic medications, burning radiation treatments, constant needles for blood tests and biopsies weren’t enough for Emily and her family to endure, their challenges were about to get worse…her younger brother, Max, also developed cancer. Emily and Max shared a bond that went far beyond just siblings. Emily stayed by her brother’s side, just as he had always stayed by hers. Max passed away at the tender age of 11. Emily was devastated and still struggles with the guilt of surviving her cancer while her beloved brother did not.

Emily battled cancer for a third time at the age of 15; a side effect of prior chemotherapy. Radiation to treat this “secondary cancer” left her with an epileptic seizure condition. At 18, when Emily should have been building an independent, cancer free life and starting college, she was now struggling with upwards of a dozen seizures per week. Medications left her with overwhelming exhaustion, personality changes and still the seizures continued. The unpredictable nature of Emily’s seizures put her in danger as she had a two hour bus ride across LA to get to college. Her school work began to suffer and she had to drop classes. Her social life became non-existent, and she was so medicated that she could hardly stay awake. Changes to her medications improved Emily’s condition, however, she still suffered with an average of 5 seizures per week.

On April 10th, Emily’s 19th birthday, Guardian Angels delivered her medical service dog – Banshee. Banshee is highly skilled in mitigating the challenges of Emily’s PTSD, survivor’s guilt, anxiety and her seizures. Banshee brought huge relief and peace of mind to Emily and her family. Immediately upon Banshee’s arrival, there was a turnaround in Emily’s condition. Emily experienced her last seizure on April 24th – just two weeks after Banshee’s arrival. She has now been four years seizure free! She attends college at Woodbury University in Burbank, CA…making the 11/2-hour route and changing buses with her faithful service dog at her side.