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St. Jude patient Emma, bone marrow disorder

No obstacles for Emma

Nothing  — not even a life-threatening and life-long bone marrow disorder — seems to get in the way of this little girl and her passion for barrel racing. And, with the help of St. Jude supporters, Emma is back in the saddle again.

Emma’s family loves horses. Her mom, Amanda, got her first horse when she was 10 years old. Her dad, Chris, grew up doing rodeo. And Emma inherited her first pony, Tracey, from her big sister, Taylor.

“Emma was sitting on horses before she knew how to walk,” Amanda said. “She did her first barrel race when she was 2 years old.” Barrel racing is a rodeo event during which a horse and rider complete a cloverleaf pattern around preset barrels.

Patient Emma with her family

Patient Emma with her family


Her bone marrow and blood are the reason she's undergoing treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

In 2015, Emma’s parents took her to the doctor because she wasn’t sleeping well. “We thought it was a virus,” said Amanda. Tests showed Emma’s hemoglobin was dangerously low.

St. Jude patient Emma loves riding horses

St. Jude patient Emma loves riding horses.

At a local children’s hospital, Emma had blood transfusions and underwent a bone marrow biopsy, which revealed she had diamond blackfan anemia, a life-long inherited blood disorder that affects the ability of the bone marrow to produce red blood cells.

Soon, she became a St. Jude patient.

Emma’s treatment at St. Jude includes blood transfusions every three to four weeks and a daily medication to help with iron buildup.

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We have peace of mind knowing some of the best doctors in the country are in charge of Emma’s care. Without St. Jude, I don’t know where we’d be today.
Amanda, Emma's mom


Amanda and Chris raise horses on 18 acres of land in Kentucky. Emma loves to help out in the barn, feeding horses and showering Tracey the pony with love. She’s participated in 10 barrel races and has collected several ribbons.

“Emma loves riding Tracey,” Amanda said. “If we’re at the barn, she wants to ride.” Amanda still leads Emma when she rides Tracey, much to the little girl’s chagrin. “She is not happy about that at all,” said Amanda. “Emma wants to ride by herself, but she’s not quite there yet.”

Emma’s parents are grateful for St. Jude. “It’s a joy to see Emma riding,” Amanda said. “We have to watch her a little more closely and take some precautions, but it’s wonderful to see her riding, to see her doing something we all love. If it wasn’t for St. Jude, I don’t know where we’d be.”


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