Team Emily

Team Emily

Emily Duffy

Hi there, have you heard the story of ‘A Princess Called Emily’? Emily has been the chosen cause for this year’s ‘SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon’. Emily is a 3-year-old princess who we have had the honour of knowing over the last few years. If you have never met Emily you have not yet got to meet the fun loving little girl with a heart of gold.  Her infectious smile and her joyous laughter would brighten the saddest of days for anybody. Emily is a typical 3-year-old little girl who loves nothing more than dressing up as her favourite Disney Princesses on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, she was dealt a heavy hand back in November 2016. She was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a form of childhood cancer. To a lot of us it isn’t a particular form a cancer that we may have heard about and sadly wasn’t until recent months that we have come to learn about. If you are like me and haven’t heard about this then let me tell you a little about this form of cancer.

Neuroblastoma is a cancer of specialised nerve cells called neural crest cells. These cells are involved in the development of the nervous system and other tissues. Two of the most common areas that this particular cancer can develop is in both: the abdomen (tummy area) and the nerve tissue that runs alongside the spinal cord, in the neck, chest and pelvis. It is a rare form of cancer that affects 1 in 100,000 children in Ireland each year.

On November 2nd Emily and her family were giving the devastating news that not only did she have neuroblastoma, but that it was stage 4. Further tests revealed that the cancer was in a number of areas in her body including her tummy, ribs and pelvis. To be given such heart-breaking news as you can imagine hasn’t been easy for them watching their fun loving 3-year-old go through this horrific experience and feeling entirely helpless. Emily had only recently started creche and showed no signs of being unwell on the lead up to been diagnosed. She had previously visited the family doctor on three different occasions and on each visit, it hadn’t been detected.

Both Gillian and Robert who are Emily’s parents are continuously helping their little warrior fight this battle and are most definitely two very strong people. Although Emily is truly her own little lady, you can definitely see where she gets her strength and courage from. Her little brother Luke will always be her number 1 fan, the love that he has for his big sister is beautiful.

As a family seeing them come together has been nothing short of amazing and also the support that followed in recent months from family, friends and people who have been following her journey. Immediately after Emily was diagnosed, she was put on a two year programme in which doctors in Our Ladies Hospital, Crumlin would begin her treatment of chemotherapy, surgery, stem cell transplant and radiation therapy. As you can imagine it hasn’t been easy on her, over the past few months the chemotherapy has been very tough on her body mentally and physically with a lot of sleepless nights, long days of tired and weakness and continually throwing up throughout the day. Due to the intense chemo sessions, Emily’s hair began to fall out just before Christmas. She was given an amazing new look by the lovely ladies of Academy Belle hairdressers and she looked even more like a Princess that she ever did before.

However, no matter how tough the day is she still musters up the energy to dress up as her favourite Disney Princess whether it be Snow White, Cinderella or Elsa. Like a lot of girls her age Emily loves Disney Frozen and isn’t shy in using her magic powers to turn her little brother into Olaf the snowman every now and again.


Our aim of course is to help this Princess fight this disease every step of the way and the response from so many people around Ireland has been amazing. We have had messages from people following her journey in the United Kingdom and as far as the United States. Emily has a way of capturing your heart and you instantly fall in love with her personality so we aren’t surprised that so many people have followed her journey and continued to show their support. Sadly, it is estimated that as many as 60-70% of high risk neuroblastoma will eventually suffer a relapse. If neuroblastoma is going to relapse at all, it usually does so within the first two years after the end of treatment. We have been fundraising over the last few months in order to raise €300k and this will send Emily on a clinical trial to America where she will receive a treatment designed to decrease the chance of relapse on this particular cancer.

We are determined to reach our target and get this Princess all the help in the world she needs. We have been given this amazing opportunity as the chosen cause for the SSE Airtricity Marathon and we want as many people to get involved as possible. You can be part of “Team Emily “ and join us by participating one of the following.

Register for one or all of our great events –

-Fingal 10k, 23rd July

-Frank Duffy, 10 Mile 26th August

-Dublin Half Marathon, 23rd September

-Marathon, 29th October

Thank you for taking the time to learn a little about my friend, trust me you will fall in love with her as much as I have. She truly is an inspiration to us and has shown such strength and courage over the last few months. What makes this 3-year-old Princess even more amazing is she doesn’t realise just how much she is inspiring the world every single day.

-Team Emily


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