Girl fighting brain tumor receives 50,000 from ‘dogs’ across the globe

Wisconsin girl, 7, fighting inoperable brain tumor asks DOGS to send her letters – and she’s received over 50,000 from around the world so far

  • Seven-year-old Emma Mertens was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a rare brain tumor near the brain stem, on January 23 
  • Doctors say the tumor is inoperable and Emma is having radiation treatment
  • Fewer than 10 percent of children survive for two years following the diagnosis 
  • She asked friends to send her letters from their dogs during her treatment
  • Soon hundreds of messages flooded in on Facebook from around the world 
  • Her family set up a special email to accept more messages and letters continue to flood in on a GoFundMe page for her medical expenses
  • The GoFundMe page has raised $98,670 of the $100,000 goal so far 

A Wisconsin girl fighting an inoperable tumor loves dogs so much, she asked for dogs across the globe to write her letters to comfort her as she undergoes treatment. 

But seven-year-old Emma Mertens never expected to be inundated with over 50,000 letters from canines hailing from as far away as Scotland and Venezuela – and the notes just keep on coming. 

Emma was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma or DIPA on January 23. 

DIPA is a highly aggressive brain tumor near the brainstem that primarily affects children. Most diagnoses occur between the age of five and seven. 

According to DIPG Resource Network, fewer than 10 percent of children survive for two years following the heartbreaking diagnosis.  

Seven-year-old Emma Mertens was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a rare brain tumor near the brain stem, on January 23. Emma pictured above holding a friend’s dog

Following her diagnosis she asked for pet owners to send her letters from their dogs. To her surprise she’s received over 50,000 letters from dogs across the globe. Pictured above being visited by a dog in her hospital 


Emma’s family has shared these pictures, showing the massive amount of letters she’s received from kind pet owners across the globe 

At first Emma experienced headaches and flu-like systems. 

‘By Wednesday, she was rushed into surgery to reduce swelling on the brain. She has had a second surgery now and is preparing for 6 weeks of daily radiation therapy,’ a GoFundMe page raising money for the young girl’s medical expenses says. 

‘She is a fighter and she and her family along with everyone on Team Emma are here to fight for her,’ the page adds. 

After going to the doctor and receiving the shock diagnosis, she’s now undergoing six months of radiation treatments at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. 


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Emma was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma or DIPA on January 23, a rare type of brain tumor near the brainstem and primarily affects children. Doctors say her brain tumor is inoperable 

‘We’re doing everything we can to beat this thing. We know that we have a very steep road ahead of us. We aren’t going to stop fighting until we can find a cure for this,’ Emma’s father Geoff Mertens said

She’s received heart-warming and encouraging messages from dogs and pet owners such as this one, sending her love and positive thoughts as she undergoes treatment 

‘We’re doing everything we can to beat this thing. We know that we have a very steep road ahead of us. We aren’t going to stop fighting until we can find a cure for this,’ Emma’s father Geoff Mertens said to Good Morning America.   

Emma loves dogs, even though she doesn’t have one, and often dogsits along with her parents for their neighbors. 

After she was diagnosed, her friends and family sent Emma letters addressed from their pups to make her smile.  

Petowners have shared these sweet notes from their dogs on Emma’s GoFundMe page 

At first the sweet notes came on Facebook Messenger, then she got a P.O. box and then created e-mail account to handle the influx of messages. 

People have sent notes and pictures of their smiling dogs from all corners of the globe such as a puppy named Sadie from South Africa and Charlie from Italy.

Some kind-hearted fans even post the sweet dog letters in a GoFundMe page raising money for her treatment. 

The page has already raised $98,670 of their $100,000 goal.  

Family first: Emma pictured above with her parents Geoff and Tammy Mertens

The seven-year-old pictured above beaming with her family wearing ‘Team Emma’ shirts

Animal lover: Emma’s mom Tammy says Emma’s email account is currently full with dog messages and she’s received over 50,000 letters so far

‘The thing that brings Emma joy is seeing dogs, interacting them, Kelly Zimmerman, the GoFundMe moderator and Emma’s neighbor said. ‘It’s a devastating diagnosis but seeing her smile in present day and seeing those moments has carried the hope for the family.’ 

Emma’s mom Tammy says Emma’s email account is currently full with dog messages and she’s received over 50,000 letters so far. 

‘Like Geoff [Mertens] said, Emma, the only thing she wants to do is make other people happy,’ Tammy Mertens said. ‘Having our community around her and supporting her is amazing.’ 

Any dogs that would like to write a letter to Emma can send them in via email at [email protected]  

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