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Friends, family help tough toddler battling cancer

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THOMPSON, N.D. - A tough toddler from Thompson is in the battle of her life.

She's got pediatric cancer but that's not stopping her. 2-year-old Emma Basting has a rare form of cancer. 

"It's been horrible. The last thing that you ever want to hear is that your kid has cancer," said her father Aaron Basting. 

It all started last December when Emma, like any other toddler, was walking around her home in Thompson. 

But she began to fall consistently so her parents took her to the doctor. 

"We initially thought she had an ear infection," said Aaron. "We brought her to the doctor and he had sent her right for an MRI where a mass on her spine was seen."

Emma and her dad were flown that night to Minneapolis for testing. 

Doctors found Neuroblastoma, a tumor wrapped around her spine. 

It's a condition that's left her partially paralyzed. She can only move her arms. 

For the last nine months, the family has been making frequent trips to the Twin Cities for treatment. 

"Her skin looked like she had a horrible sunburn," said Aaron. "Her skin started blistering and peeling off. It also killed her fingernails and her toenails so her fingernails and toenails fell off."

The family won't ever know if the tumor is completely gone. 

They say testing further could cause more severe problems for her spine. 

"It's too risky to surgically remove it," said her mom Brandi Basting. "They could cause more damage to her spine. So then we go to immunotherapy now and hope that whatever is left in there is killed by immunotherapy." 

"She'll get an antibody that'll help train her immune system to fight the neuroblastoma cells down the road," said Aaron.  

For now, doctors think the tumor may be gone. Bt it's believed Emma will never be able to walk again. 

She will spend the next six months at the Masonic Children's Hospital in Minneapolis undergoing immunotherapy treatments. 

It's a painful road to recovery for Emma and her family.

"She's coded in the hospital. There's been some very scary times," said Aaron.

But through it all, she still smiles, and lights up her parents' faces. 

"Emma loves music," Brandi said. "She loves to dance and sing. In the hospital she was really into inappropriate rap videos. So she would really jam out in the hospital." 

When she gets back, her family is hoping to make their home handicap accessible. 

"Right now none of our doorways are wide enough," said Aaron. "We don't have a ramp. Emma's room is upstairs. And we needed to build her a room on the main floor."

Family and friends are trying to raise $100,000 in hopes of giving Emma a happy homecoming. 

"I think what's important for us is letting her be a kid and giving her the opportunity to do that, said Brandi. "We'll work on figuring out our house and go from there."

A family and community rallying around a tough toddler. 

There's a benefit for Emma on Saturday, September 15th starting at 3 pm and the Grand Forks Growth and Support Center. 

A Go Fund Me account can be found here. Follow Emma's journey on Facebook here

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