Special First Fish

Young cancer survivor catches her first fish in Laurens County.

Justin Savage | August 24, 2022

Emmi Savage, 4, of Rentz, and her very first fish. A first fish is always special, and Emmi’s is even more so because she’s showing great improvements after battling a form of neuroblastoma cancer.

Back in the spring of 2021, my daughter Emmi Savage was diagnosed with a form of neuroblastoma, which is a common but can be a very aggressive childhood cancer.

Emmi went in for her regular 3-year-old physical, and the doctor noticed her stomach being a little bloated. The doctor started investigating by feeling her stomach, and he felt something strange which he thought to be an enlarged spleen. Emmi was sent for x-rays and the x-rays turned into an ultrasound where the mass was discovered. MRIs were ordered to see exactly what we were facing, and the MRI showed the tumor to be about the size of a softball.

Many thoughts start running through your head, like we actually may lose our little girl. What stage is this going to be, and if this is bad, how much time do we have with Emmi?

So our journey started the next day. We made our way to Greenville, S.C. to get our baby girl better. We spent 12 days in Greenville, and those days included a biopsy of her tumor, a port being placed, bone marrow being pulled and five days in the PICU unit because of blood pressure issues. The biopsy came back while we were still in the hospital and showed we were dealing with maturing neuroblastoma, which is called ganglioneuroma. This actually was the greatest news we could receive because it meant the tumor had started producing benign cells instead of cancerous cells.

The next seven months Emmi endured six rounds of chemotherapy, endless amounts of needle sticks, a blood transfusion, another biopsy and more scans to count. Since then Emmi is no longer doing chemo treatments, even though her tumor still remains in her stomach. Her tumor is inoperable and a very high-risk surgery to even do.

We now go every three months for scans to monitor her tumor, and her next scan is in October in Atlanta. So to say this first fish is special is an understatement. As for now, Emmi is thriving like any other 4-year-old, and as long as the tumor remains stable, Emmi’s future looks bright with hopefully minimal needle sticks and no more chemotherapy.

With this said, I would like to remind everyone to slow down and enjoy the little blessings in life. There are a lot of people who are a lot less fortunate than most.

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