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A hero for our time


Emme Ek honored by Children's Cancer Association

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: MICHAEL SCHOENHOLTZ - Nicole Ek and her daughter, Emme, of Lake Oswego are accepting a new life with grace and strength.When it comes to making the best of a situation, Emme Ek does it to a heroic degree.

That is why the 13-year-old Lake Oswego girl has been honored as one of the 2013 Community Heroes by the Portland-based Children’s Cancer Association. Her heart is simply too big for any obstacle that gets in her way, despite being stricken by brain cancer.

This gutsy little girl has a lot of admirers. Especially her mom, Nicole Ek.

“She’s just a little sparkle,” Ek said. “She has accepted her challenge with grace and strength. She’s always joyfully accepted every challenge. Emme is a really good role model for anybody — not just a child.”

As a Community Hero for 2013, Emme was honored along with the other young bravehearts by Channel 12 TV of Portland with a special photo session. In an awards ceremony held at OMSI, she received a medal and had her name placed on the Wall of Courage. The Wall of Courage will become a traveling exhibit moving throughout the state, serving as inspiration to everyone who views it.

Emme also got a call from a bike team for Candlelighters, an organization that raises money for cancer victims. She is going to meet the team members on Sunday. It will be a great privilege for them.

“People who hear Emme’s story come up to me and say that she is amazing,” Ek said.

Emme’s inspirational saga started in 2009, when she was 10 years old and a fourth-grader at Forest Hills Elementary School. At first her mother thought she was having trouble with her eyeglasses, or maybe just going through a gawky stage or a growth spurt, as the reason Emme starting to be so clumsy. Instead, the cause was a highly aggressive form of brain cancer called a medulloblastoma. Doctors said the tumor was in the worst possible place to operate on. They also said they had never seen a tumor with such a large blood supply.

By October 2009, Emme had undergone seven brain operations, and she has had more since then. These operations have had a devastating effect on her, paralyzing her right side and leaving her reliant on a wheelchair. Emme was right-handed so she had to learn to write with her left hand.

“Her writing is absolutely perfect,” Ek said.

Another operation left Emme totally without hair. She could have had a beautiful wig made for her by a friend of her mom, but, Emme said, “I’ll just wear my hat.”

Thanks to a motorized wheelchair that was donated to her, Emme can go whipping down the halls of Lake Oswego Junior High School, and she is always smiling, laughing and singing. After all, she has turned a catastrophe into a blessing.

“It’s weird that something like that could happen,” Ek said, “but she’s been amazing.

“We have a new life now. But we’re accepting it.”