They say never judge a book by its cover, and it usually is a good advice not to put a tag on someone without knowing what they have been through. We learn this from a young age, and we’re told that the story inside that book may be very different than what we see on the cover. Growing older, we see the truth of this saying.
And Brent Gehring from Papillon Nebraska would teach a stranger a very important lesson. It was either that or punch him in the face for the rude comment he made to him and his daughter!
Every day, we learn new lessons, be it the hard way or not. A lot of parents have been there, where strangers judged them for their decisions regarding their children. Gehring was one of them…
Being a parent is tough, especially when your kids get sick. Brent had no idea he would experience such a moment. So, after passing his own judgement, he reached social media and started writing about the incident.
“We are all guilty of it. We are scrolling through Facebook and see 12 kids trapped in a cave, a family that was in an accident and lost a loved one, a family member is diagnosed with cancer,” wrote Brent on Facebook. Then, he explains where this is going…
“You stop and read the story. You feel bad and wonder what it would be like to be that family. Then you scroll on and read the latest meme or watch a funny video and you forget about that family that is lost and doesn’t know how to move on,” added Brent. What was this father trying to say, though?
Brent explained that he’s not writing the post to get pity for him, his child or his family. Instead, he wanted to change how the world is thinking. “We have the power to make days better or worse for others. I choose to attempt to make lives better,” he said.
“Today, I am going to do this by telling you a story. A story that I have only shared with my wife and my daughter Emma, who was with me. The same daughter that was told earlier today that she will soon start her 7th, yes 7th round of chemotherapy for a brain tumor. She is only 6 by the way,” explained Brent. It all started after Emma was born…
Emma’s parent have believed Emma was a drama queen, always doing things her way, when she felt like it. She was less than seven months and she wasn’t gaining weight, she had problems with her left hand and strabismus. Then, doctors gave her a heartbreaking diagnosis.
When Emma was seven months old, she was diagnosed with pilomyxoid astrocytoma, a form of childhood brain cancer. The condition has made Emma’s life difficult, as she couldn’t walk on her own. So, after consulting with a specialist, the parents started the treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital.
It was a long and difficult process, but Emma was strong and always smiling at her parents, keeping them strong as well. This made one of Brent’s students that knew Emma to say “Stay Emma Strong,” and that’s how #EmmaStrong caught fire on Twitter.
The parents received support through funds that had been raised to help Emma with her treatment and special care. In 2013, at 7 months, Emma had her first surgery and 85% of the tumor had been removed. But this was only the beginning of a long journey…
Although the tumor was not cancerous, it grew fast, so Emma had to get chemotherapy. But things were not easy, as the tumor couldn’t be controlled, even with three different chemo regimens. This led to her losing most skills she learned so far, and it was heartbreaking, recalled her mom Kathryn Gehring in a story written for Her View From Home.
Emma was three years old when her mom Kathryn opened up about her daughter’s fight with this condition. “Emma is an amazing little girl who amazes us with her strength everyday,” she said back then. Now, Emma was six years old when Brent experienced a rather strange meeting with a rude man…
So, almost six years had passed since Emma had been diagnosed with pilomyxoid astrocytoma. It was quite a journey, but the parents have kept faith. So, Brent heard that stranger yell at him on the street. “I had a choice to make at that time,” he wrote on Facebook.
It all started one night, when Brent and his daughter were finishing their dinner. “My daughter and I were leaving dinner the other night at Union Oyster House in Boston, MA. A dinner donated to us by an amazing business and friend that has been in our “family” for years.” Then, this happens…
“When I crossed the street carrying her, she can’t walk without the use of her walker. A man yelled at me from 30’ away: “What the F*+k?” He yelled,” recalled Brent. The father was confused at first, but then he realized what was wrong.
“Make her walk. That’s what is wrong with kids today,” asked the stranger. So, Brent had to choose. “Can I make myself feel better by screaming at him or can I teach him something about life?”
Although, knowing what Brent went through, the clear choice would be punch the rude stranger in the face, Brent choose not to. He recalls it was quite difficult since the stranger was so close to him…
“I won’t lie to you and tell you that it was an easy choice but I got inches from his face, with my daughter in my arms, and quietly asked him if he was referring to my daughter. “Hell yes” he said.” So what did Brent do?
“I responded with “My daughter has been carrying my faith and my strength for the past 5 years since she was diagnosed with a brain tumor,” recalled the father. You can imagine that the stranger’s jaw was now wide open. But this was only the beginning!
“She can’t walk but I am happy to carry her because of all the amazing things she has taught me through the years. So I would advise you not address my daughter in any way other than respectful,” added Brent on Facebook. Now that’s how you teach someone a lesson. So how did the stranger react?
The two men end up sitting down and talking, with little Emma in Brent’s arms. “I won’t tell you the rest of the story but it ended with two grown men with tears rolling down their faces,” added the father.
Brent continued his story, saying that one of them needed “to have his eyes opened to what real life and real love is and one that is always needing a reminder that good can come from any situation.”
“This story is only important if it serves as a reminder that you don’t always know the whole story so don’t judge others,” added Brent. So, with this event in mind, he echoes the first few sentences about the power of making people’s days better or worse.
“I promise you this through hell and high water Emma has made each and every day of my life a blessing, continued Brent, adding that he praises “God for bringing her into my life.” But this is not how the story ends!
Brent concluded his post: “Emma you are perfect just as you are and we will help carry you through chemo #7.” We have an update about Emma in a post shared on the Emma Strong Facebook page, so try not to cry!
In August 2019, doctors told the Gehrings that Emma had 4 new tumors. They told the parents that they should cease treatment and go home. Brent, Kathryn and Emma would enjoy the last 2-3 months together before she would pass away. But ten months passed…
On July 3, 2020, Emma’s oncologist entered the office and looked at the hopeful family. He was bearing the most incredible news. “After a day of intense waiting (much longer than usual) Emma’s oncologist came in and delivered the news he had….” revealed the Emma Strong Facebook Page.
“Emma’s scans had NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE! They were clear!!!! No tumors!!!!!!!!” shared the post. Everyone was at a loss! However, the family knew that this was indeed a miracle!
“We are at a loss of thoughts and words at this moment. Emma has an incredible story to tell, that only can be described in one way. Gods divine intervention! There is no other explanation. When humans failed, God came through. As he always does,” said the post. Emma has a new chance at a normal life now!
Now Emma is learning to speak, think and getting stronger as days pass. “We have done what we can, without any clinical assistance, we will now seek out physical, occupational, and speech therapy, To give Emma better quality of life.”
Emma’s story has torn our hearts into pieces and then glued it back together! It’s incredible to see these parents armed with so much patience and hope being rewarded with one more chance for their little daughter! We wish the Gehrings a happy life!