In announcing the death of his 25-year-old daughter last April, Leon Betts made a commitment. A commitment that he and his wife, Tamra, would continue what their Emma had started. More awareness, more funds to further research into the disease that had claimed her life – Melanoma.
“Maybe too late for Emma, but there are a lot of people that Emma still wants to save,” he shared via Facebook. “This is her legacy and we will honour it.”
It was a legacy Emma Betts forged in less than three years. One that lies in the community created via her popular blog Dear Melanoma, in the more than $100,000 she raised for melanoma research, in the sun-safety message she spread through her story, in the Love, Emma care packages she created for families dealing with difficult life events.
In the ten months since her death, Emma’s parents continue to dedicate themselves to that legacy. It gives them purpose, Tamra told Mamamia, a positive way of dealing with their immense loss.
“Of course, the grieving does get mixed up in the goodness that we’re trying to achieve. But I kind of feel like it’s something that, not that we owe Emma, but just that she did such wonderful work that we want to continue,” the 55-year-old said, tearfully.
“We don’t people to forget what she did.”
That’s unlikely. Emma’s thoughts – the sad, the scared, the uplifting – live on through her blog, and more than 26,000 people follow Leon’s updates via the Facebook page.
The Dear Melanoma tribe is stronger, more loyal than ever.
“While we knew Dear Melanoma was successful and had a lot of followers, it wasn’t until Emma passed away that we started receiving messages about the impact she’d made on people’s lives. Messages from people that were grieving too, but had never met her,” Tamra said. “It made me incredibly proud. For her to be able to turn such a terrible diagnosis into something positive – that was incredible.
“It’s another reason for us to keep going.”