Throughout treatment, we always referred to Emerson’s tumor as a squishy little ball that we had to smash and get rid of. As we talked often about smashing that ball, the term Smasherson was born, it was a fitting name for her fighting spirit and an appropriate name for our foundation, which we launched in 2020. The purpose and mission of this foundation is to fund innovative and creative research for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Neuro-Oncology’s team as well to provide financial and emotional support to children and families of all pediatric cancers.
The decision to fund this institution was an easy one. From the day we walked in the door of CHOA on August 7th, 2018, we were treated like family. Our first night on the neuro floor, we were met by Brittney Birdsong (Nurse Brittany) who gave my wife and I a big hug and never left our side, even today. When we think about our time “in treatment”, our emotions swell thinking about the love that was shown to our entire family. From Dr. Chern giving Emerson a little kiss on the forehead before surgery, to Dr. MacDonald getting choked up as he talked about how hard we were going to fight, to the entire radiation team at Emory who we saw each day and became some of the most important people in our lives. These people revealed to not only be brilliant practitioners, but uniquely human.
We could think of no greater form of gratitude than to honor Emerson by funding their fight (and now ours) to eradicate this devastating disease.