S.M.I.L.E. stands for see miracles in life every day. That’s Emmalyn Freeze’s motto.
The Mt. Morris 10-year old has gone through 39 brain and spine surgeries in her battle with Chiari Malformation. After being in California for 11 weeks and 4 surgeries, she has returned home, but will be heading back on July 5 to figure out her next steps.
“She always smiles,” Emmalyn’s mother, Stephanie Freeze said. “She said she liked it and we’ve done shirts for her with that on them. She said in California, ‘I do smile every day, hopefully my miracle will come someday.”
Masks bearing the motto are being sold by Brave Gowns with proceeds going towards Emmalyn’s treatment. They can be purchased at bravegowns.com/products/s-m-i-l-e-for-emmalyn-mask
Chiari Malformation is a condition where part of the brain slides down into the spinal canal and blocks the cerebrospinal fluid from flowing as it needs to cleanse and nourish the spinal cord.
Emmalyn often struggles with headaches while upright and has to lie down to reduce the pain. That, along with COVID-19 restrictions in California made for a tough trip.
Emmalyn and Stephanie had to drive to California in March with flights being canceled due to the pandemic.
“We stayed at the Ronald McDonald house,” Stephanie said. “Everything was shut down. We had to get food delivered. We hung out in the room for 11 weeks. It was really hard for her. She had a lot of pain and had to be stuck in her room.”
Returning to California after only a couple weeks home will be difficult, Stephanie said. But Emmalyn’s doctors need to see her and get imaging to decide her next steps.
Emmalyn created the mask to bring smiles, while also hoping to make a difference in protecting others from COVID-19.