Cancer survivor, Emily Kirkland and family participate in the Relay for Life to raise funds and hope for cancer patients.
Cancer survivor, Emily Kirkland and family participate in the Relay for Life to raise funds and hope for cancer patients. Marie Cook CS

Family's battle after their baby was diagnosed with cancer

IT'S something no parent wants to hear - their child has been diagnosed with cancer.

Tania Kirkland's daughter and then only child, Emily was just three months old when the family knew something was wrong when her mouth was painful and she got her first tooth.

When she was six months old Emily was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, a rare form of cancer.

Since then it's been eight years of procedures.

"No parent should have to watch their child experience what Emily has," Ms Kirkland said.

In the beginning Emily had specialist surgery in Sydney to remove some teeth that were not properly formed and biopsies were done.

From here the cancer diagnosis was made and many scans and treatment began.

After one year of chemotherapy, Emily was given the all clear in May 2011.

But nine months later Emily had a relapse which resulted in an additional two years of chemotherapy.

She was cancer free for two years until it came back as a lesion in her skull in April 2016, where it was then successfully removed.

Emily is currently healthy and cancer free.

Ms Kirkland said her daughter's diagnoses was "devastating".

"No one ever wants to hear the words that their child has cancer. Emily was only six months old and was our only child at the time," she said.

"To watch her go through the treatment - the scans, the chemo and to hold her down while drugs were administered was hard.

"Emily battled through and although there are many lasting effects of years of chemo, we love our family time and value every minute we get to spend together.

"We are thankful we have had such great support from our parents and that Emily was able to have a lot of her treatment at home."

Despite eight years of unpleasant procedures Emily's family are amazed each day by her "positive attitude, courage and zest for life".

Emily is known for her positive attitude, courage and zest for life and wishes for others affected by cancer to "never give up, stay positive and take one day at a time".

She will be participating alongside her mother at the 2018 Lismore and Villages Relay for Life to help raise money for Cancer Council NSW.

Tania says participating in the Relay For Life provides an opportunity to celebrate what Emily has overcome and remember all she has been through.

The family relay to help raise money for research.

"Watching Emily go through her cancer journey has been tough so raising money to help fund research into cancer is so important to us," she said

Emily said for other kids who may want to join in a good thing to do was "make it fun and walk with family and friends" and "don't be afraid to make new friends on the track".

For more information or to register a team in the Relay For Life, go to and like us on Facebook for updates at

Relay for Life 2018 in Lismore is March 17 - 18.