CHATHAM, Mass. — Emily Coughlin is a sophomore on the Monomoy Regional High School girl’s soccer team. She’s just as tenacious on the field as she is off of it.
“She is tough, super tough. She is a tough 15-year-old and she was a tough 4-year-old,” said Emily’s mother, Amy Coughlin.
In 2009 Emily was diagnosed with stage four high-risk neuroblastoma. It is a rare form of pediatric cancer.
Emily had 6 rounds of chemotherapy to shrink the softball-sized tumor and then an 8-hour surgery to remove it.
Her mother said Emily spent more than 300 nights in the hospital over 18 months, including intense back-to-back stem cell transplants.
“Then she had 21 rounds of radiation and 6 months of an experimental therapy,” Coughlin said.
While finishing treatment Emily and her father watched walkers from the bridge of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute participate in the Jimmy Fund Walk. They were determined to join them the next year.
So in 2010, Emily participated in her first Jimmy Fund Walk and has been part of it ever since.
This weekend she will walk virtually in her hometown of Chatham. “I just look forward to seeing everybody who helps support us and I get to see my friends and family who are supporting us,” Emily said.
Emily’s 17-year-old sister, Isabelle, has been instrumental in her support. So much so, the name of their team is Team EmmaBelle. It’s a combination of both girls' names since cancer impacts the entire family, including siblings.
“I think about them in the hospital, kind of what I went through and just thinking how it gets better and stay hopeful through it all,” Isabelle Coughlin said.
Team EmmaBelle has been a fundraising machine. They’ve raised nearly three-quarters of a million dollars for cancer research at Dana-Farber since their first walk.
But despite the staggering amount, they say the money is secondary to awareness.
“I had never heard of neuroblastoma when Emily was diagnosed I had no idea what it was,” Amy Coughlin said.
All of the money the Coughlin’s have raised goes to neuroblastoma research at the Jimmy Fund Clinic.
Their goal is to hit one-million dollars by the time Emily graduates from high school in two years. You still have time to sign up or contribute to the Jimmy Fund “Walk Your Way” this Sunday.