MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A 13-year-old South Florida cheerleader battling brain cancer is receiving support from people all over the world.
As Emma Sorensen fights for her life, her parents said they are amazed at how she has inspired all those around her.
From the moment she stepped on the mat, Emma‘s cheerleading coach, Katya Goldstein, said she brought a special spirit to the gym.
“Her skills were spectacular,” said Goldstein. “On top of her skills being so good, she was always the best leader on her team.”
She was voted captain three times.
“Emma was your typical preteen,” said her mother, Kelley Sorensen. “Lively, fun, active, sassy, and a good student and great friend.”
Cheerleading, her mother said, has always been her passion.
However, in August 2018, everything changed. A seizure at the dinner table led to a shocking diagnosis.
After doctors performed an MRI, they found something in her brain.
“Never did we think it would be the worst case scenario, which is a stage-4 glioblastoma,” her mother said.
Only in middle school and diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, Emma was determined to fight hard.
“When we told her she has cancer, she was like, ‘OK.’ We said, ‘Do you understand? Do you have questions?’” explained Sorensen. “She was like, ‘Yeah, I have cancer. Do you want me to fall on the floor and cry? We will figure it out.’ Those were her exact words at 12 years old.”
“When she got diagnosed, she still kept coming to the gym and working hard,” said her coach. “It taught not only me, but the rest of the athletes in this gym, you continue to fight every day and you push hard. No matter what obstacles are in your way, you just continue to push and push and push.”
The cheerleading captain, who was always cheering on others, now needs her team to rally around her.
“Emma’s biggest advocates and our biggest source of help, whether it be emotional support, monetary support, whatever it may be, is her cheer village,” said Sorensen.
That village was so much bigger than they thought. Emma received letters from as far as Australia. The Miami Dolphins cheerleaders made her an encouraging video.
While the Sorensens knew their daughter could be the loudest cheerleader in the room, they had no idea her voice reached so far.
Around Christmas, Emma had to go into hospice care. Her family continues to hold on to hope. Mike Sorensen said seeing all the help and well-wishes his daughter has received has inspired him to have a new perspective on life.
“The bad in this world is very loud. It’s right in your face. You see it constantly,” he explained. “There’s a heck of a lot more good in this world than bad. By that I mean, it’s quiet. There’s no noise. It’s people doing things through acts of kindness.”
A family friend has set up a GoFundMe account for medical expenses. If you would like to help, click here.