All Little Girl with Inoperable Brain Tumor Wants Are Letters and Photos from Dogs

Combined Shape

A Wisconsin family has been overwhelmed with love and support on behalf of their 7-year-old daughter who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in January.

The Mertens family, from Hartland, Wisconsin, had their world turned upside down when Emma began to experience headaches and flu-like symptoms.

Emma, 7, was diagnosed on Jan. 23 with a rare tumor in her brain stem called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, which typically is found in children aged 5-7.

Emma’s parents are understandably doing everything they can to help their daughter, which currently involves radiation treatments at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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Emma is coping with the diagnosis in the most heartwarming way; she has asked for messages of encouragement and photos of dogs.

The little girl does not have a dog of her own but enjoys taking care of other people’s dogs. During a stressful time of uncertainty, reading letters and seeing photos of people’s dogs from around the world has helped keep Emma’s spirits high.

“If you knew Emma, she’s the most kind, big-hearted girl,” Emma’s father Geoff Mertens told Good Morning America.

“To see so many people take a few minutes out of their day to put a smile on her face is overwhelming.”

Since making their daughter’s request for doggy mail known, Emma and her family have received so many letters, they had to kindly ask people to stop.

Instead, they are inviting people to post photos of their dogs along with a kind word for Emma on her Facebook page, “Team Emma.”

Kelly Zimmerman, the family’s neighbor and GoFundMe moderator, told GMA that Emma loves all the doggy fan mail.

“The thing that brings Emma joy is seeing dogs, interacting them,” Zimmerman said. “It’s a devastating diagnosis but seeing her smile in present day and seeing those moments has carried the hope for the family.”

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The family faces an uncertain road ahead but has a supportive team rallying around them helping out at the house, bringing meals, donating money and of course, posting uplifting dog-mail on Facebook.

“We’re doing everything we can to beat this thing,” Mertens said.

“We know that we have a very steep road ahead of us. We aren’t going to stop fighting until we can find a cure for this.”

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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