If you ring up or call into Tambo Teddies chances are you will have the lovely Emma serve you. Emma works at Tambo Teddies three days a week and is enthusiastic about her job and about teddy bears in general.
But this week Emma is away in Brisbane having a bit of treatment, Em is no stranger to treatment as in November 1991 she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia when she was just 2 years and eight months old. At the time her family lived on a newly purchased cattle station in North Queensland and her baby sister, Laura, had been born just one month before.
So as you can imagine it was quite a shock for them all when the day after her diagnosis they were in Brisbane for little Emma to begin chemotherapy. This first chemo session required a stay of 4 months in Brisbane, another 2 1/4 years of chemo either in Cairns, a 600km round trip, or in Brisbane saw Emma enter remission.
Unfortunately in May 1995 Emma relapsed which led her into two years of aggressive treatment. Emma and her family travelled to Brisbane every second week to spend a week in hospital for a period of six months. During this time she also underwent cranial radiation.
Another relapse in 1998 meant Emma required intense chemotherapy in preparation for a bone marrow transplant. She was due to have a transplant in Brisbane in February 1999 but the State Government cut the funding for these transplants due to the poor success rate. Fortunately Emma was able to have her transplant in Melbourne; she spent 9 weeks in an isolation room, 4 months in Melbourne than a further 10 weeks in Brisbane before getting home.
While undergoing treatment her family stayed in Leonard Lodge, the Children’s Leukaemia and Cancer Society Units and the Leukaemia Foundation Units in Brisbane and the Ronald MacDonald House in Melbourne.
Today Emma has been in remission for seventeen years but does experience some ongoing health issues due to the side effects of the chemotherapy and radium treatment. Emma has no spleen, only has 50-60% lung capacity, she has skin cancers that are regularly cut out, lives on thyroid medication, is unable to have children and has a poor immune system. Regular check ups and differing treatments are undertaken in Brisbane, a 12 hour bus trip from Tambo.
But despite her medical challenges Emma leads an active life in Tambo; she married Simon in 2013 and together they have renovated their home. Emma loves gardening, sewing, craft work, spending time with her family and friends, and of course working at Tambo Teddies.
Emma’s love for teddy bears began during her extended stays in hospital and she understands just what a good friend a teddy bear can be. Emma is very passionate about Tambo Teddies and likes to make sure every teddy bear goes to the right home.