A celebration in honor of Milwaukee teen Emanuel “E-Man” Monge, for an enduring resiliency during his battle with childhood cancer, was held on September 5 in the Vel R. Phillips Ante Chamber of City Hall.
Seen as a “superhero” to many in the community, the 15-year-old was recognized during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month for his years of fighting to be cured of his cancer. Emanuel was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer in September 2016 at the age of 12. He underwent extensive chemotherapy treatments for the following year, and in 2017 he was declared cancer-free. But just months later, doctors discovered that the cancer had returned.
Alderman José G. Pérez of the 12th District, where Emanuel and his family live, and Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton hosted the recognition event. They were joined by Mayor Tom Barrett, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, fellow Common Council members, city staff, family members, and other community supporters.
“We are proud of your courage, and we are proud of your resilience,” said Alderman Pérez. “And most importantly, we want you to know that we are with you on this journey. We wanted to recognize you and make sure you know that City Hall is your house. We use City Hall for all kinds of things, including politics and meetings. But most of all, it is where we remember what is really important in life – that family matters, that community matters, and this a place where community happens.”
September is a time to nationally acknowledge the thousands of children and their families who are dealing with a cancer diagnosis, raise awareness about the reality of childhood cancer, and emphasize the importance of research. Childhood Cancer Awareness Month was founded in 2010 by former President Barack Obama, and is mainly run in the form of awareness events by cancer charities. The average age of children in America diagnosed with cancer is 6, and the disease affects all ethnic, gender, and socio-economic groups.
“We all want to embrace and recognize that there are a number of people in our community who are fighting big fights, and doing so in such a courageous way. So when we have a chance to recognize these examples, it is good for us to celebrate them,” said Alderman Ashanti Hamilton, President of the Common Council. “This month is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and it is important to highlight the stories of these resilient young people. To Emmanuel and all of our other superheroes, know that the City of Milwaukee is with you.”
Emanuel was just a few weeks into the start of the 7th grade when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma, a cancer that affects the bone, muscle, and fat tissue. Veronica Monge, his mother, noticed a small bump on her son’s back which quickly grew to the size of a baseball. She cared for Emanuel by herself, while also raising his five sisters.
The diagnosis from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin was devastating to Emanuel and his family. His chemotherapy treatments also affected the healthy parts of his body, causing hair los
Emanuel is a rare gem. He is a kind, quiet kid, a boy among a houseful of girls. And even with a chemotherapy regimen that would pretty much knock an adult off their feet – he comes to school as often as he can and with a huge grin on his face. He is not letting this diagnosis define him. He is fighting.” – Olyvia Gentz
Following the conclusion of treatments in July of 2017, Emanuel was determined to be cancer-free. His hair began growing back back, and he returned to school. Emanuel began attending high school at Atlas Preparatory Academy where he met new friends, began growing into a young man, and enjoyed a normal life again.
However, his 18-month cancer checkup revealed a growth in one of his lungs. A surgery was scheduled to remove the lower portion of his lung, and doctors discovered it had become a metastatic recurrence of Ewing’s Sarcoma. That meant the cancer was now located in Emanuel’s blood.
A Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan found that the cancer was spreading. Emanuel is currently undergoing chemotherapy every three weeks for five days straight, and trying to juggle the start of his sophomore year of high school at the same time. Despite going through all of the obstacles in his life, Emanuel has stayed positive and stays focused on the light at the end of the tunnel.
“With all the work that gets done at City Hall, it is important for us to step take a step back and remember what is important in life,” added Mayor Barrett. “At our core, every single person wants to be happy, and want their family to be happy, safe, and healthy. That is a common denominator for everyone and being able to recognize Emanuel is reaffirming.”
The Common Council of the City of Milwaukee passed a unanimous resolution on September 4, expressing its full support for Emanuel “E-Man” Monge and wished him restored health and continued happiness.
Lieutenant Governor Barnes traveled directly from Madison to compliment Emanuel for his courage, and also presented him with a proclamation from Governor Tony Evers. Both leaders ncouraged him to continue his fight against the disease.
Each year in the United States an estimated 15,780 children under 19-years-old are diagnosed with cancer. The average survival rate is just over 70%, with cases of childhood cancer being diagnosed every 3 minutes. Cancer remains the #1 cause of death by disease for children in America.
Childhood cancer is still a big problem because it cannot be treated exactly like adult cancers, which also get most of the federal research funding. Often the treatments are too toxic for a young child’s physical stage of development. Even childhood cancer survivors continue to suffer from lifelong damage to their organs and mental health.
Emanuel’s nickname “E-Man” was transformed into a superhero illustration, and incorporated as a charity t-shirt design. E-Man and his family concluded their City Hall visit with a private tour by City Clerk James R. Owczarski, who explained about the building’s history while viewing downtown Milwaukee from the Bell Tower.