BRONZEVILLE — The lobby of the Chicago Police Department headquarters was heavy with emotion as a 12-year-old girl removed her oxygen tube to address the crowd.
"You've got to stay strong, and you've got to stay positive no matter what happens," said Emily Beazley of Mount Greenwood.
The little girl who has captured the heart of the city in her battle against cancer was named an honorary junior police officer on Tuesday along with her younger sister, Olivia.
Emily has been fighting Stage III T-Cell Lymphoblastic Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma since April 7, 2011. The latest setback is a pair of spots doctors found on her lung, making it difficult to breathe.
Her mother, Nadia Beazley, has shared her daughter's story with friends and family via Facebook all along the way. Her updates worked to unite her neighborhood on the Southwest Side and beyond.
Even the Chicago skyline is a reflection of the outpouring of support. The Light It Up for Emily Facebook campaign has spread to the Willis Tower, Soldier Field and other Chicago landmarks decorating the night sky with green and purple.
The honorary distinction from the Chicago Police Department is a nod to Emily's father. Ed Beazley is a 19-year veteran of the department. He followed his father into the job, as Emily's grandfather worked for 37 years as a Chicago police officer.
"I know a lot of tough cops, but this is about as tough as it gets," Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said of Emily during the ceremony at police headquarters in Bronzeville.
A proud smile came over Ed Beazley's face as his daughters were presented with badges at the ceremony. In some small way, this was his daughters carrying on the family tradition.
"The honorary star has definitely been earned," Ed Beazley said. "It's amazing that our child has inspired our area and beyond."
Nadia Beazley greeted several family members and friends who made the trip from Mount Greenwood to see her daughters receive the badges. She hugged several of her husband's co-workers.
"Sharing Emily's story started three years ago, I never thought it would be this big," Nadia Beazley said.
She lamented that more money isn't spent researching pediatric cancer and said Emily's treatment protocol is the same as a child who suffered from the same condition 50 years ago.
At this point, Emily is receiving hospice care. Oncologists discontinued chemotherapy earlier this month as it's no longer working. Emily continues to see receive radiation treatments, but it is simply to help elevate some of her pain, Nadia Beazley said.
And yet, Emily has vowed to continue to fight. She does so with the help of Taylor Swift. The pop-country singer is a favorite on Emily's playlist as she will often "Shake It Off" while receiving radiation.
"If she's watching, I would like to say, 'I love her music so much,'" Emily told a group of cameramen on Tuesday, hoping the message would make its way to Swift.
Emily's faithful supporters have turned to social media and other outlets to draw Swift's attention. They hoping the pop star will contact Emily — either in person or via video conference.
"It would mean so much," Emily said of meeting Swift.
Emily shared the spotlight with Olivia, who donated stem cells to her ailing sister in August. Unfortunately, Emily suffered a relapse, but that didn't stop the sisters from having a bit of fun with their new badges on Tuesday.
The girls openly joked about arresting family members before heading home. The family arrived with a police escort and were greeted by the sound of the Pipes and Drums of the Chicago Police Department.
"They've been looking forward to this for a long time," Nadia Beazley said.
Meanwhile, Emily seemed undeterred by her diagnosis and vowed to continue her fight. She thanked all of the people who have hung ribbons, strung light bulbs and prayed for a miracle.
"I feel like I have people supporting me," Emily said.
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