Girl, 11, who overcame leukaemia four years ago is now helping her best friend battle the same disease

January 5, 2019  12:34

A young girl who overcame leukaemia four years ago is now helping her best friend through the same devastating illness.

Emma Bergeron, 11, of Chicago, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia at just four years old and received the all-clear after her last treatment in 2014.

But just two years later, in September 2016, her neighbour Johnny Sorial, also 11, discovered he was suffering from the same disease after developing painful feet, fatigue and a complete lack of appetite.

Johnny credits Emma for being a source of hope while he endures grueling chemo, which triggered his severe anxiety.

Since having therapy, the youngster is feeling more positive and is set to have his last chemo session in November.

Speaking of his condition, Johnny said: 'In the months before I was diagnosed I felt so tired and my feet really hurt. I was never hungry.

'When the doctors told me I had leukaemia, my immune system was so down and I was so tired, I didn't even register it at the beginning. I didn't even hear them. All I heard them say was it's a blood disease.'

Johnny initially dismissed his diagnosis and did not realise how serious his condition was until his first chemo session.

'At the start I really had bad anxiety especially during chemo when the doctors and nurses had to access my port [tube that administers drugs],' he said.

The youngster undergoes chemo that gets delivered into his spine every three months, as well as taking tablets every day.

On top of having therapy to help him cope with his anxiety, he has also called on Emma for support.

'Knowing Emma had been through it made me feel better because she's recovered now and like a normal kid again,' Johnny said. 'I looked up to her because it made me remember I will be better someday soon too.

'The best thing about Emma is she's so positive. When she visits me, even when I'm in hospital, it feels like just one of my friends coming over to visit.'

The pair love to spend time together, whether it be drawing or playing with Lego. And they are even set to go on a skiing weekend.

Emma added: 'I was a little nervous when Johnny was diagnosed but I knew that he could do it.

'It feels good inside to be there for him because not many people experience it. If you don't experience it you don't get it. You don't understand.

'Johnny is such a great friend. I can't wait until he is better.'

And it is not just the children who have benefited from their friendship.

Johnny's mother Susan, 43, and her husband George Sorial feel lucky to have had the support of Emma's parents Renee, 42, and Keith Bergeron, 45, throughout their son's illness.

Mrs Sorial, a mother-of-four, said: 'Their support has been so wonderful and Johnny is lucky to have a friend like Emma to help him through this.

'Now that 2019 is here, his last treatment in November feels so much closer.'

Mrs Bergeron added: 'Johnny and Emma's friendship is amazing. Their personalities are very similar.

'They're two peas in a pod and very independent thinkers.

'When we heard Johnny was sick, it was devastating. You wouldn't wish this illness on anyone.

'Even though we weren't that close as families at the time, Susan reached out to me and even though it was hard, it felt good to be that support to her, because when Emma was sick we just didn't have that.'

'We're all looking forward to the day when Johnny has his last treatment and everything will go back to normal.'

Emma and Johnny recently set up a 'Lemonade for Leukaemia' stand, which raised $6,000 (around £4,770) for Lurie Children's Hospital, where Emma was treated.

The stand also raised $6,000 for Advocate Children's Hospital, where Johnny is overcoming his illness.

Daily Mail

Follow Medicine on Facebook and Twitter


  • Video
  • Event calendar
  • Archive