Emma Allred was 10 years old when she was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer. What started with fever, chills and a stomach ache turned to a trip to a Twin Falls, Idaho, emergency room, where doctors found an ovarian tumor.
“It’s quite rare,” Emma’s doctor, Nathan Meeker of St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute, told PEOPLE. “Ovarian tumors represent only about 1 percent of all tumors seen in the pediatric population.”
For three months, Emma underwent chemotherapy treatment — and was cancer-free for almost two years. But in July of 2015, Dr. Meeker found another tumor on her lower abdomen. There was a chance she'd have to have a hysterectomy because it was surrounding her reproductive organs and colon.
Doctors were able to remove the tumor, but there was still a small amount of cancer touching her pelvis.
“We talked about how to proceed after because it’s so rare in kids," Dr. Meeker said. "It’s debatable whether chemotherapy at that point improves overall cure rates for children.”
After discussing it with Emma and her family, they decided that instead of chemotherapy, they’d move forward with continued surveillance.
When the Make-A-Wish Foundation approached Emma earlier this year, she took a few weeks to think about what her wish would be.
“She could have had a shopping spree, gone anywhere or met anyone she wanted to,” Emma's mom Nina said. “They [Make-A-Wish] tell you it’s okay to be selfish. Her siblings wanted her to go shopping at an electronic store.”
Nina suggested going to Disney World, but Emma's response was incredible.
“She said, ‘Mom, I know what I want to wish for. I want to help the homeless,’” Nina said. “I was taken aback, proud and humbled. She has a once in a lifetime opportunity to do just about anything and she wants to use it for the homeless. That’s just amazing.”
On October 1, Make-A-Wish and the Allred family hosted a food drive to benefit local homeless shelters in Twin Falls, Idaho. Local organizations and a grocery store also contributed to the cause, and together with the community, they collected more than 13,000 pounds of food.
“It felt very good to help them,” Emma told PEOPLE. “In reality, the more you give, the more people smile. It helps their day.
“If I can help someone, I’ll help.”
Currently, Emma is in remission. However, Dr. Meeker found another mass on her liver, which is scheduled to be removed November 1.
“Now we just have to wait,” he says. “If we were to see cancerous elements, that wouldn’t be a good sign. [...] It was difficult when she initially had the relapse because we were a year in and thought it’d be okay. It was a setback for her, but even then she handled it with great courage. She’s only had the attitude that we’re going to fight this thing.”
Adds Nina, “Just believing that God is in control and that he knows what he’s doing is a big help. It’s something that we have no control over.”
Do you know someone who has undergone a similar situation? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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