Emily Good, a sophomore at , spends as much time online as any other teenager, but her experience isn't solely about engaging friends on social media.
She spends most of her time sending out information and awareness about cancer, a disease that has affected too many people in her young life.
Good remembers watching a show sponsored by St. Jude around the age of six. The stories of young children affected by cancer and other life-threatening diseases spoke strongly to her heart, and she has been passionate about raising awareness and funds ever since.
At the age of ten, she led a group of four other children in a Jump-a-Thon.
“We went and collected money, and jumped rope to raise money for St. Jude,” she explained. They raised around $100.
In 2009, Good's math and homeroom teacher at was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She was also the mother of one of Good's best friends. Good's heart broke for her friend when she saw her teacher, Ms. Forbes, begin to show signs of her treatment.
“She went through chemo and lost her hair,” Good recalled of her teacher. “But she was still always at school.”
Forbes had a full recovery, but Good recognized that it was a difficult journey for everyone involved. During that time, she and a few of her friends made T-shirts that said “Pray for Ms. Forbes,” and went around to friends and family collecting money for an upcoming ovarian cancer walk.
Finding Her Calling
Meanwhile, her best friend of six years, Daniela Joel, had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor known as DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma) a couple of years before. Despite treatment, she passed away in September 2010 at the age of fourteen. () It was after this difficult, life-changing experience that she found her calling.
Good spent the summer of 2011 volunteering at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. Every Friday, she worked on one of the floors with the children who were not able to go home. Sometimes, she would read to them, play games with them, or take them for walks to the library, while at other times she would simply talk with them. She recalled one day that she spent sitting with a 2-week-old baby, while the baby's mother took a much needed break.
“One girl who really stood out to me was a four-year-old girl,” she said. “She had been there for a year, and she knew the whole routine. We were spending the day painting with her, and she knew the exact moment her food would get there.”
That summer, the little girl got to go home with her family. Good remembers the joy expressed by the nurses, but also the bittersweet realization that this little girl would no longer be a part of their lives.
Good was mentored by the hospital's Child Life Specialist, a relatively new field.
“As a Child Life Specialist, you explain to them what's going on in their life,” Good explained. “You offer therapy, make bracelets, go on a walk. Whatever the kid needs.”
Good has chosen to go into that field once she graduates from school.
When she is not fundraising or volunteering, Good maintains a Twitter profile that she uses to raise awareness. The account, @PrayforDaniela, was originally set up before her best friend passed away.
Using Twitter for Good
Since that time, she uses it to connect with other friends and family who have been affected by life threatening diseases and disorders. If she hears about a fundraiser, she sends her followers in that direction. She also offers uplifting and motivational messages, like these:
Jan. 31 “don't forget thursday is brain tumor thursday! you have to be aware to care!”
Dec. 4 “childhood cancer is the #1 cause for death of children!”
Dec. 3 “everybody please pray for my friend @taylorfilorimo she is fighting a rare cancer! & isn't feeling to well! thank you!”
The last tweet refers to a friend she met through her Twitter account named Taylor Filorimo. Filorimo has a rare cancer called advanced renal cell carcinoma papillary type. She is the youngest person known to have this disease.
Filorimo, who lives in Tennessee, had a blood clot in her leg that needed surgery. When she was transferred to Egleston last month, Good had the opportunity to meet this person she had speaking with online for months, in person. Filorimo just turned 16.
“Through Twitter you have so many bonds with those people,” Good said. “It's cool because you have that relationship with them and you can encourage each other. I have prayer bracelets from people in Oklahoma because of Twitter.”
Good has spoken to Joel's mother about starting a team that raises money directly for the brain cancer foundation. Her compassion and strong sense of calling, she hopes will take her far in life, helping others along the way.