Emma Mertens passed away from an inoperable brain tumor earlier this month at age eight. The Wisconsin girl gained national attention after she asked for love letters from dogs to help her throughout her cancer treatment.
Her family asked people to send messages from their dogs and, in return, they received thousands of notes from all over the world. In addition to the letters, Emma was also able to meet dozens of police officers and their K-9s, who welcomed Emma and her family home from the hospital in March.
“Emma Claere Mertens (age 8) passed away at her Hartland, WI home in the arms of her mother and father on Sunday, November 17th. She fought hard against a DIPG Brain Tumor but it was time to go home and leave the pain behind. In her final hours, she was told how much she was loved,” her father, Geoff Mertens, wrote on Emma’s Caring Bridge page.
Emma was diagnosed with the rare Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) in January and was told she had just nine months to live. In that time, her family spent as much time together as possible as she courageously fought the disease.
“Our goal is still to celebrate each day, one at a time. Today was a good day. We had a break in between appointments and went to Build-A-Bear and the Cheesecake Factory,” her dad shared in February.
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In memory of their daughter, Emma’s family has asked for donations to her Foundation, Emma Loves Dogs. The organization provides “financial assistance to organizations that share Emma’s passion for helping animals.”
“Through all of this battle, all Emma wanted to do was spread kindness and help animals,” her dad wrote.
When I’m not hanging out with my three-year-old and husband in Brooklyn, I’m busy writing stories for Mamas Uncut and managing PR + Marketing for Magnolia Bakery, based in New York City. On weekends, you can usually find me at a local park or playground pushing my daughter on the swings, “researching” the best almond croissants in Park Slope or launching into impromptu family dance parties at home, the sidewalk or, every once in awhile, a restaurant bathroom. I’m still trying to master the whole parenting thing, but I have learned that copious amounts of coffee, humor and humility are involved on a daily basis.