"Bald is Beautiful": Teenager fighting bone cancer inspires community
A Cleveland teen battling bone cancer gets her wish granted, and Channel 3 was there to share the inspirational story of #EmmaStrong.
A Cleveland teen battling bone cancer doesn't ask for much. She wants to live a normal life, play sports and socialize with friends. In order to make that happen, she's had to endure several surgeries and chemotherapy to help kill the cancer.
But she also has another wish. One that was granted to her for just one day.
"I've always just really just wanted to feel glamorous for a little bit," Emma said, "Cancer's got nothing on me, I can do this."
Emma Cummings is only 13-years-old. She's spending her first year as a teenager recovering from her latest round of chemotherapy.
It was during one of her treatments when Emma saw a social media post of another girl battling cancer. The girl had a special photoshoot to showcase her strength and beauty. Emma immediately wanted one too, and her friends at The Children's Hospital at Erlanger found a way to make it happen.
Emma's right is leg still healing from the large tumor removed in August. Doctor's at Vanderbilt University Medical Center removed a portion of her knee and tibia and fully reconstructed her leg.
But for one day she's not focused on her pain.
She's focused on her beauty.
"You always see celebrities that get their makeup done real pretty, nice dresses, and I've just wanted to be pretty for a day, princess for a day," Emma said.
Princess Emma is one of a kind. She is a princess who will not be wearing a wig.
"I don't wear a wig because this is how I am, this is the new me, so take it or leave it," Emma said.
Her bald head is an unfair side effect while her body fights off remaining cancer cells.
"I mean I never really thought about losing my hair," Emma said, "I really took it for granted my whole life, until the day that you wake up and there's hair on your pillow, and you go to take a shower and hair falls out."
Instead of covering it up, Emma will embrace it. She's promoting her own slogan "Bald is Beautiful" during her photoshoot - to let others know you can still be beautiful while fighting cancer.
"'Cause you can still be bald and pretty," Emma said.
Emma was invited to a home on Lookout Mountain for her special photoshoot. She had her make up done by a professionally by SpaGo, and she was photographed in the hand-picked dress of her dreams give to her by Monica's Bridal.
Sarah Foley of Faces by Sarah Photography captured her beauty for her own project showcasing the "Faces of Cancer."
"We've had lots of very bad days and this is a good day," said Emma's father Chris Cummings.
Melissa and Chris Cummings have had to watch their daughter struggle. They've had to watch her sit out her eighth grade year at Ocoee Middle School.
"She has her hard days, she has her hard times, some of the medicine especially is really hard on her."
And during her special day, Melissa and Chris got to watch as she shines.
"Mom come wipe this tear from the photo, she's just so excited she's in tears. she just can't contain herself."
It's not hard to catch Emma at a good angle. With each click, it's clear she's a natural.
"I've never really had the best self-esteem but then especially you think when cancer rolls around that it'd really just bring it down even more, but it hasn't, it's just boosted it if anything and I just feel so beautiful now," Emma said smiling.
So even on her not-so-glamorous days, Emma will keep her smile and her new title as princess.
Emma's surgery was successful in removing the tumor in her leg and there are high hopes of a full recovery once she completes chemo in the next few months.
Emma and her family document each step of her journey through a Facebook page called Emma's Journey. Her parents said during some of her toughest moments, it was messages and words of encouragement from the community that comforts her.