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'Bald is Beautiful Barbecue' fundraiser to help 10-year-old cancer patient

On the path to healing
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Emma Kait Stanphill and her family are on a journey none of them chose to take. Emma, 10, was recently diagnosed with cancer – Stage III anaplastic large cell lymphoma – and is undergoing treatment. Friends of the Stanphills are holding a barbecue at 4 p.m., Sunday, May 1, at Del Oro High School to raise funds for the family. Jon and Rebecca Stanphill, Emma’s parents, both grew up in the area and attended Del Oro High School. Jon Stanphill grew up in Loomis, attended Loomis Grammar School and graduated from Del Oro in 1992. Rebecca Stanphill, nee Norton, attended Ophir Elementary School and graduated from Del Oro in 1993. The family now lives in Newcastle and Emma and her brothers Joseph, 12, and Benjamin, 8, are students at Harvest Ridge Charter School in Newcastle. This past February, the Stanphills learned that Emma had cancer. Since then, Jon and Rebecca Stanphill have kept an online blog at emmakait.com. Called Face of Faith, the blog chronicles what Rebecca Stanphill calls her daughter’s “journey through lymphoma.” “She’s had ups and downs, but she doesn’t get down. She doesn’t complain. The loss of normalcy has made her sad, but she never asks, ‘Why me?’” Stanphill said. Stanphill said the disease came on suddenly with what appeared to be an insect bite. “This past December, she mentioned a bug bite on the back of her neck. It didn’t itch or hurt. Within a few weeks it turned into an open wound. The doctors thought it was an abscess,” Stanphill said. Stanphill said the wound then became infected and Emma was on antibiotics for a month. When the wound didn’t heal, surgery and a biopsy were performed, revealing that Emma had lymphoma. According to the website childrenshopital.com, large cell lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. It is the third most-common childhood cancer, most often striking children between the ages of 7 and 11. However, it can occur at any age from infancy to adulthood. Stanphill said she is optimistic about her daughter’s recovery and said Emma will undergo at least a year of chemotherapy, which includes a spinal tap every 21 days. Emma has suffered some side effects from her treatment, Stanphill said. Those side effects include the loss of her hair, spinal headaches, swelling, jaw pain and mood swings. Stanphill said the family’s Christian faith and the outpouring of support they’ve received have helped them cope. “As a parent, sometimes it makes me feel helpless, but it has grown my faith in God. He put the right people here to help us,” Stanphill said. Stanphill said her blog on Emma’s journey has affected other people, “People are being changed by her story. People are watching how she’s facing this and it’s giving others hope and takes away the fear of cancer.” “Emma walks through it with peace and confidence, but she said to me, ‘Mom, I didn’t think this cancer would be so hard,’” Stanphill said. Stanphill had to quit her job as the physical education teacher at her children’s school in order to care for Emma. Jon Stanphill has a construction business. Jennifer Russell, a family friend, is organizing the fundraising event. “Emma is the sweetest and strongest little girl I’ve ever met. I can’t believe how courageous she is,” Russell said. According to Russell, tickets for the barbecue are available in advance at www.jandjsportsproductions. She said tri-tip sandwich meals, at $12, require advance order, and some hamburger and hotdog meals, at $6, will be available at the event. Meals include green salad, pasta salad, beans and soda or water. Russell said monetary donations can also be made at any Wells Fargo Bank. For more information, contact Russell at 530-305-1112. ----------------------- BALD IS BEAUTIFUL BARBECUE What: Barbecue dinner, silent auction, walk-a-thon, raffle, headshaving Who: Benefit for Emma Kait Stanphill, 10, cancer patient. When: 4 p.m., Sunday, May 1 Where: Del Oro High School track, 3301 Taylor Road Contact: Jennifer Russell, 530-305-1112, jandjsportsproductions Follow the blog: emmakait.com