The Origin Story of Emilie’s Crazy Hats

Text During October of 2016, while at St. Jude in Memphis, Emilie was having a tough time. She put up with so much and handled it all so bravely. Because of the possibility of losing her much loved hair due to treatment, when people asked what they could do to help, we asked for crazy hats early on. Well, the stressors of high doses of steroids and their side effects, being stuck in Memphis away from her brother and friends, the constant medical appointments, and countless needle sticks began to take their toll.

Several hats were sent to us by wonderful friends, so we asked her if she wanted to start a contest to see what crazy hat she could make her mommy and daddy wear on Halloween night. She jumped at the idea. Soon after, she modeled hats and we posted pictures on Facebook. She wanted to check all the time to see which hat was winning! In the end, to Emilie’s delight, Candi and I were made to wear Dory and Rainbow Dash hats walking through the St. Jude complex getting weird looks even though it was Halloween. From there, the hats began to take on a new meaning. Emilie got into the game by choosing her own hats when she went to appointments, MRIs, and needle sticks. Of course, she HAD to choose which hats her mommy, daddy and brother would look the most ridiculous wearing. We had one more contest to decide which hat she would wear when she got her first treatment at UCSF. Fittingly, it was a Wonder Woman hat. She was and always will be our Wonder Girl.

It is important to note that Emilie never wore her hats because she lost her hair. In fact, she didn’t lose her hair until re-radiation nearly a year later. While balding on top and walking hatless into a restaurant, we asked if she wanted a hat, and she looked at us strangely and simply asked, “Why?”. Our girl was so comfortable in her own skin and taught us to just be our own goofy selves.

So, what started at Halloween and got Emilie and our family through some of the toughest times, finished one year later on that same holiday. In 2017, on a day that so many of us dress up in crazy outfits and hats, Emilie left us on Halloween night to begin a new adventure. We believe it is fitting that the crazy hats that made such a difference in her battle are now being used as donation icons to continue to make a difference in the battle against childhood cancer.