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Dameshek Family: ‘Thank You Will Never Be Enough’

“Before that day, we were just your every day, sort of run of the mill American family.”

Emilia Dameshek was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma six years ago. Unlike many families, Emilia’s mom, Natalie, already knew about the Four Diamonds when the organization was introduced to her at the hospital.

Natalie described how she heard about Four Diamonds and thought in the back of her head that her family didn’t need it — her husband, Mitchell, had a good job, and the family had great insurance. However, they weren’t prepared for the days that lied ahead.

Through 14 chemotherapy cycles, five different drugs, a huge life-altering surgery, and two weeks of radiation,

Around the time of Emilia’s surgery, the family was partnered with the Club Gymnastics THON Org. It was the perfect pairing — Emilia was constantly trying back bends and tumbling. Four girls from the org traveled to see the Damesheks over a cold weekend, and a few weeks later, they got to meet the rest of the members at THON 2014.

“I was so overwhelmed because you were all here for us,” Natalie said. “You were supporting our child, our family, other kids like ours.”

After Emilia had finished her treatment, the family found out that she had developed a blood cancer from one of the drugs that treated the Ewing’s Sarcoma. Emilia spent 37 nights straight in the hospital, took a drug that cost more than $5,000 per month, needed overnight nutrition at the family’s home, and had labs taken at their home. Four Diamonds paid for everything when insurance wouldn’t.

When she was at home rebuilding her immune system in hopes of returning to school, Emilia developed a fever, and Mitchell stayed home with her. Natalie later got a call at work from the nurse.

She had relapsed — three cancers in less than three years.

The Damesheks didn’t expect to be able to go to THON that year, but Emilia asked her doctors and was cleared to attend as long as she left Sunday when it got crowded. They decided to surprise their dancers when they walked onto the floor, and they were overjoyed.

Three months later, Emilia was gone. At 12 years old, Emilia passed away in May of 2016.

“She never got to be a teenager,” Natalie said. “She never made it to 13, which is the age Max (her brother) is now, because she died.”

Club Gymnastics members from all over the country attended Emilia’s funeral, in addition to doctors, nurses, and staff that the family had encountered throughout Emilia’s battle.

“We are here today to tell this story, and I remember our first family hour,” Natalie said, recalling the Eli Sidler family story. “It was one of the few times that we ever just cried right in front of our kids…because we knew that one day that could be Emilia, because she had the same cancer.”

Natalie thanked THON leaders, volunteers, and dancers for their dedication to the cause and passion to find a cure.

“I want to thank all of you. We did it with all of you,” Natalie said. “You helped us through the darkest time in our lives. Thank you will never be enough, but we’ll continue to say it.”

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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