St. Jude success story: Meet Emma Grace

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - We have watched this girl grow before our eyes.

Emma Grace Heppner was only 3 when she got cancer.

But now she is treatment free, all because of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“I got her for my 1st birthday so that means I'm 6 and she's 5,” explains Emma Grace.

She is talking about Honey Bunny – her faithful sidekick since she was a baby.

“Whatever Emma went through, honey Bunny went through,” says Emma’s mom Marcy Heppner.

And Emma has been through a lot, but don't worry, she's tough.

“Very tough,” says Emma, “I wrestle my dad.”

A typical kid activity that at one time Heppner didn't think could ever happen.

“It seemed very far away,” says Heppner. “When you hear 960 days of treatment it seems very far off.”

Emma was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma in 2009.

She lost her hair 4 times, had 17 bone marrow procedures, 15 blood transfusions and celebrated three birthdays at St. Jude.

In all she had 2.7 years of treatment.

“We lived in a bubble of our home or at the hospital,” says Heppner. “With her immune system being compromised she wasn't able to be around other kids. We homeschooled her, really it was home and clinic, clinic was her fun day out.”

But thanks to St. Jude the treatment that Emma Grace received to make her healthy once again didn't cost the Heppner's a penny.

“It was overwhelming to know St. Jude would pay for all her treatments. It allowed me as her mother to be her caregiver and stay at home with her and continue some sort of normalcy,” says Heppner.

And that normal means Emma Grace is treatment free -- thanks to the Heppner's new, bigger family called St. Jude.

“When she finished treatment, we had people from all over the world send confetti,” says Heppner. “We took it to St. Jude and they have a no more chemo party. Everybody reaches into this bag and tossed confetti, we felt at that time people who couldn't be there were rejoicing and a part of us.”

Even at this young age, Emma Grace is already giving back to the place that saved her life.

She loves to paint, especially bird houses.

She sells them to help raise money for St. Jude that way other kids will be just like Emma Grace.

The Heppner family is looking forward to a lot of new experiences for Emma Grace.

Just recently she had her first haircut and she already has plans for her next birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, a place she never got to go to because she was sick.

Emma Grace and her family will return to St. Jude next month for her yearly checkup.

She will continue to do this until she is 18 years old.

If you would like to help kids like Emma Grace get life-saving treatments at St. Jude, buy a ticket for our St. Jude Dream Home giveaway.