Emily Wallis,  —

Emily is a 22-year-old first-grade teacher. Her sister, Abby, has the rare neurodegenerative disease Sanfilippo syndrome, which has been coined a “childhood Alzheimer's." She is a Houston, Texas, native and enjoys all types of writing, spending time with her family and friends, and learning something new every day. In this column, she shares the ups and downs of caring for Abby.

Articles by Emily Wallis

Grief Is an Unwelcome Visitor During the Holidays

This year’s Thanksgiving was difficult. I lost my grandmother in March, so grief overshadowed a lot of the gratitude that should be at the forefront of this holiday for me. However, having grief at the center of Thanksgiving, among other holidays, is common for those affected by terminal…

Living My Own Life as a Sanfilippo Sibling

You live with many fears when a family member is diagnosed with a terminal disease. However, there is a specific fear that comes with being the sibling: What if I move away from home and something happens to my sister? Sanfilippo syndrome, a rare, terminal disease known as…

Sanfilippo Syndrome Robs Me of Closure

I have an interesting relationship with my sister, Abby. Because she has special needs, our relationship has always been rocky. I often would become jealous of the extra attention she received, and it weighed on me for many years. When Abby was diagnosed with Sanfilippo syndrome, a rare…

It’s Time to Deal with My Anxiety

I’ve known for a long time that I have anxiety. For obvious reasons, it hit an all-time high when my mom was diagnosed with cancer and my sister with Sanfilippo syndrome, which is terminal and has no cure. From that point on, I constantly worried about the future.

Life Never Stops with Sanfilippo Syndrome

The current state of the world is difficult for everyone. I’ve thought a lot about my sister, Abby, my family, and other Sanfilippo families. It’s been the perfect time to reflect on what our life is like behind closed doors. Last night, my mom was upset…