Emily "Emma" Whitehead :: My Journey Fighting Leukemia » My journey fighting childhood cancer.

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We haven’t posted an update here for awhile! Emily is still healthy and happy and almost 4-years cancer free! We’ve started the Emily Whitehead Foundation to raise awareness and research funds for childhood cancer.

You can continue to follow Emily’s journey here:

Emily’s Facebook Page
Emily Whitehead Foundation
Emily Whitehead Foundation Facebook Page, Twitter, or Instagram

Thank you so much for your messages and for checking in on Emily!

The Whitehead Family

  • Ke Yan - Halo,i’m a Chinese medical student,today my teacher told the amazing story of you,and about CAR-T cell therapy. Best wishes to you.ReplyCancel

  • Kevin Platt - Thank you for sharing your story, it is a wonderful success. Emily, I have to say you are quite a remarkable and lucky girl. I hope you do go to college someday and do something great too. To your parents, I can only imagine your gratitude for those Doctors in your time of need. May God bless you all and keep you safe in the future. Keep us updated !!!ReplyCancel

  • Michael Wylie - Hello,
    My name is Michael Wylie and I have followed your story for several years now after stumbling upon the short video made by GE, highlighting the engineered virus immunotherapy performed under the doctors at the Penn University. I just wanted to say that your story has not only inspired me, but continues to push me in the medical field while I prepare myself with advanced degrees in medicine in hopes that someday I can be a part of the team who renders the term “cancer” a term only used in past tense.

    Thank you so much for continuing to share your story,

    Michael WylieReplyCancel

  • Yujie Leng - I am from China who works on biologics.I wish Emily happy and healthy!ReplyCancel

  • Menghui - I’m a baby girl’s father from China, my daughter was diagnosed as ALL-B, and I want to know more infomation about CAR-T, Could you give the contaction of the doctors who doing CAR-T.
    My E-mail is lvmenghui@hotmail.com, please contact me!
    Best regards!ReplyCancel

Tune in tonight (Friday, February 27th) on HBO at 10:00pm to see the VICE Special Report: Killing Cancer. The report shows how researchers are using viruses – such as the common cold virus, measles and H.I.V. – to treat various types of cancers. Part of the report will focus on the T-cell therapy and Emily’s treatment. Another T-cell patient, 11-year old Tori who was treated in the same clinical trial as Emily, will also be featured.

In addition, the Emily Whitehead Foundation has teamed up with HBO VICE and CrowdRise to raise money for cancer research! Please consider MAKING A DONATION HERE.

  • Ali - Peace be upon you and your family. I seen some of your documentary. And it was inspiring. I am a 42 year old man with AML. But stories like these give me life. Because I pray you get to live to see many more years and continue to be a testament to the Greatness of God through creation. Continue the fight and be a great inspiration to us all ameenReplyCancel

  • Bayan Khatib - My deepest congratulation to amazing girl Emily & great team. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Whitehead Family - Thank you Bayan!

  • Felix Villalba - Emily such’m from Argentina, and my daughter is in treatment of ALL B. she achieved remission and no longer has anything, it lacks little to end, I wanted to wish you the best, an example of life, my daughter’s name valentina, and my inspiration is you, I send my greetings from Argentina,ReplyCancel

    • Whitehead Family - Thank you Felix! We are happy to hear that Valentina is in remission!

  • Linda - On December 30, 2014 I thought our world was coming to a catastrophic end. Our then 21 month old granddaughter Scarlett, who had been suffering with flu like symptoms for almost a month, was finally diagnosed in Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh,with leukemia (ALL). How could this happen, and why didn’t the doctors pick up on this through the many trips to the pediatrician and ER that month? In speaking with other grandparents and parents who were in the same situation, most experienced the same scenario. It was hard to even see a light at the end of the proverbal tunnel those first few weeks. After 7 days of treatment the bone marrow procedure still found cancer cells present. Our hearts sunk once more. On the 21 day after more chemo, a second bone marrow procedure was done. We were positive that all of the cancer cells were finally gone. The phone call from the oncologist came in the evening, as I looked at my daughters face I know that it was not good news–and it was not. Cancer cells were still present in Scarlett’s bone marrow. Our hearts sunk and we were brought to heart renching tears again. Only one more try before a bone marrow transplant would have to be considerd and that was 59 days away. Prayers and masses were being said by so very many family members, friends, and even strangers who heard about Scarlett. Day 59 came but because of a cold her count was too low to have the procedure. Another week of prayers, and hope for good results. Monday came and the blood work showed her counts were up and it was a go for the bone marrow procedure. We were told the results could posibally be in by Friday, but more likely Monday or Tuesday of the next week. Again, many prayers were being said and good wishes sent our way, a week seemed like a year. The results came in on Thursday (earlier than the Doctos expected) and the best news ever, NO CANCER in the bone marrow. Praise the Lord was being shouted all over the house along with tears of joy. We knew what would take place if cancer cells were still present, and were so very thankful that they were not. Scarlett still has many years to go before she is actually considered “cancer free,” but we believe she is. However, it is good to know what her alternatives are if there is a relapse. Contributions to “childhood cancer” is so very important to continue the research to make sure another child does not die do to cancer. One child’s death due to cancer is one too many. Thank you for sharing Emily’s story. God’s blessings.ReplyCancel

  • John - The TV special was fascinating. As with most of these shows, you never know how the patients are doing once the camera stops rolling, so please keep us up to date on her progress.
    I’d love to see these unconventional therapies work among a broad spectrum of people. If patients like Emily continue to live without recurrence, than it further substantiates the need for these treatments to go mainstream.
    Best of luck…ReplyCancel

  • Kim - Emily!!! Watched tour documentary on Vice, what a great story you have to tell!!! Love your beautiful brown hair and your contagious smile!! You are such a brave and inspiring young lady!! To your parents, what amazing souls you are!!! What strength you have! Ever since I saw the documentary I have been praying for you guys! I pray that God blesses you in ways you didn’t even imagine! Thank you so much for sharing your story!!ReplyCancel

We are thrilled to announce that we have created a non-profit organization – the Emily Whitehead Foundation! The official press release is below or visit the official foundation page!
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The Emily Whitehead Foundation Launches to Support Pediatric Cancer Research

The Emily Whitehead Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to raising funds to invest in the most promising pediatric cancer research. The foundation also hopes to provide support to pediatric cancer patients and will promote awareness of the disease through education and sharing inspiring stories.

Philipsburg, PA (January 27, 2015) – Nearly three years after being the first child in the world to receive an experimental T-cell therapy at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to save her from a life-threatening cancer, nine-year-old Emily Whitehead and her parents launch the Emily Whitehead Foundation.

The non-profit foundation aims to direct funding to medical researchers to develop better treatment options and ultimately a cure for pediatric cancer. The foundation will promote pediatric cancer awareness and hopes to provide support for families facing the disease.

Tom Whitehead, father of Emily, and President / Co-Founder of the foundation, said, “We want Emily to be able to tell her grandkids that she was the beginning of the end of cancer. Emily does not want to lose any more friends to cancer. We believe in a cure and if we work together we can put an end to this terrible disease.”

Emily was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at age five in May 2010 and relapsed twice. After the second relapse, the Whiteheads were told they were out of options to treat her cancer. Not willing to give up, the Whiteheads pursued a radical new treatment called T-cell therapy at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

Emily was the first child enrolled in the phase I clinical trial (known as CART-19 or CTL019) in April 2012. Her T-cells (a type of white blood cell) were collected from her body, and then, in a process using a disabled form of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the T-cells were genetically reprogrammed to recognize and attack cancer cells. When the modified T-cells were put back into Emily she became very sick and spent several weeks in the intensive care unit on a ventilator. At one point her doctor said she had only a 1 in 1000 chance of surviving the night. Not only did Emily survive that night, but a few weeks later her family was given the miracle they had prayed for: the T-cell therapy worked. Doctors couldn’t detect a single cancer cell in her body. Today, Emily is nearing three years cancer free.

Emily’s story gained worldwide attention and the trial has continued to achieve unprecedented results and provide hope to many other families facing the disease. Emily and her parents, Tom and Kari, now travel to speak at events and conferences to raise awareness and share their inspirational journey.

To learn more about the foundation, donate, and find out about upcoming events and ways to get involved, visit the website: www.emilywhiteheadfoundation.org.



  • Richard yeboah - very good idea but must be world wide supportReplyCancel

  • Victoria Miles - God Bless you Emily, My grandson had the same treatment and is doing great, Thank God.ReplyCancel