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Emily Gray – the art of being brave


Charmaine du Plessis - Livewired Public Relations

Emily Gray

The act of being brave is a concept that we are not all familiar with and we are inclined to think that being brave is exclusive to heroic icons but the truth is ordinary people are faced with challenges that force them to be brave every day. This was the case for young Emily Gray who was a mere eleven years old when she was faced with a challenge that would define her for the rest of her life.

Emily experienced a normal healthy childhood surrounded by a loving supportive family. She excelled at sports in school, where she discovered her passion for middle-distance running. Her love for running came to an end when her and her parents were informed that she had Osteosarcoma, a dangerous form of cancer in her femur. At the age of eleven, Emily’s survival depended on a decision which she personally made to have her leg amputated. A massively brave and important decision for one so young.

At the age of 23, Emily is an accomplished Springbok swimmer and two-time South African Paralympian who believes that the hardship that she faced when she was younger was part of a bigger plan for her. Emily is the epitome of brave and she is the perfect example of someone who was faced with a difficult situation but chose to overcome it with a positive outlook. Emily shares five important acts of being brave that helped her and continue to help her when confronted with challenges.

“I think that this is one of the hardest tasks to tackle, because giving up is much easier than pushing on,” says Emily. “Motivating yourself to fight through the challenge is tricky but you have to believe in yourself and convince yourself that you can do it which is something that you have to consciously and constantly work at.”

Acceptance and understanding
Emily explains that the key to being brave is to accept the challenge that has been afforded to you. “Questioning and analysing why you are being faced with a hardship often deters you from accepting and dealing with it, so it is important to come to terms with it,” says Emily. “Understand that there is a reason that you have been met with this challenge and that it is part of a greater picture.”

Asking for help
Often when people are going through difficulties they try tackle it by themselves but Emily enforces that you should not be afraid to ask for help. “Although you may be strong enough to face your circumstances without the help of others, you should not feel that you have to face them alone,” Emily explains. “I was very fortunate and blessed to have the support of my family and the love that they offered was tremendous and was integral in making me realise that this was not a battle that I had to fight alone.”

Believe in a greater cause
“Although it is difficult to accept or understand, facing a trying encounter is your destiny and it is part of your journey,” Emily explains. “Looking back now, I would not change what I have been through, it was hard but it has made me the person that I am today and I have absolutely no regrets. If I hadn’t been through my ordeal, I probably would not be the person that I am today and I probably would not have achieved what I have and so I am grateful because I feel that it forced me to overcome many other obstacles in my life.”

Move forward
“The best advice that I can give you is to move on and keeping looking forward,” Emily explains. “Don’t indulge in self-pity, accept what has been and commit to get over it. Never forget that there are people that are worse off than you and that everyone has their own struggles to face. Sometimes witnessing others overcome hard situations and circumstances pushes you to be brave,” Emily concludes.