Breast cancer survivor to speak at Steve's Run

Emmy Rickert, seen here with her family, will speak at Steve’s Run.

DOWAGIAC — Breast cancer survivor Emmy Rickert beat such miraculous odds, People magazine profiled her twice after the births of her first two children.

Rickert, of Pinckney, Mich., will be the guest speaker for Steve’s Run on July 27 at Southwestern Michigan College.

Grace’s arrival filled Rickert with “joy and gratitude that I survived. Seeing that miracle reminded me even more how precious and fragile life was. I started to do as many speaking engagements as I could, trying to help as many people diagnosed or battling cancer as I could.”

She lost her Aunt Jodi to breast cancer in 2013, after a five-year battle. Two weeks later, at 24, Rickert found herself waging the same war.

The 2009 Central Michigan University graduate was working as a legislative aide when she felt a bruise. A regular exerciser, she figured she had pulled a muscle, but given her aunt’s ordeal, insisted it be checked.

Rickert needed immediate surgery. Doctors told her the aggressive cancer grew a centimeter in two weeks between the ultrasound and surgery, but hadn’t spread.

“I remember my initial meeting with my oncologist,” Rickert said in a news release. “They handed me the paper about my proposed chemo medications. Infertility topped the list. There was very little I could control after my diagnosis, but I decided my attitude and will to fight would be something that would remain mine. I called that very day to The Fertility Center in Grand Rapids to ensure I could freeze eggs. I was able to freeze nine. Knowing I would be a mom gave me the hope I needed to make it through what lay ahead.”

She’s now the mother of 4-year-old Grace, Huck, 2, and Boone, 1, with her husband, Kelly.

They had wanted to have a baby as soon as they married, but they were able to conceive naturally.

“I look forward to donating my frozen eggs to someone in need,” Rickert said.

Rickert, who leaves for an Ugandan orphanage two days after speaking in Dowagiac, studied comparative politics at CMU.

“To say Africa holds a place in my heart would be such a shortfall in words,” Rickert said. “Upon my mom’s death, I wanted to focus on helping others. I traveled to an orphanage in Kenya called Huruma Children’s Home. I felt my heart healing as I loved on those children who also lost their mothers. Upon returning, I started paperwork for a nonprofit called the Hope for Huruma Foundation. I have stepped down as executive director and am a board member.”

To register for the 5K/10K run, which starts at 8:30 a.m., visit stevesrun.swmich.edu.