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

Update from Tom

Last weekend for my birthday, Kari and I went away to Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. It was the first time we stayed away from Emily since she was diagnosed in 2010. We needed some relaxing time together, but I found it really hard to sleep. I don’t sleep well at home either, but I can always check on Em when I have nightmares or insomnia. Emily was okay with us going, but asked if she could go next time because she loves to see the animals at the resort. Emily stayed with my parents and was okay until she needed to talk to us and we didn’t answer our phones. I turned off my ringer while eating in a restaurant. She had a meltdown and left me the saddest message. We called back right after we ate. She said,”Daddy I just needed to hear your voice”. We did get to relax on our trip but we all are more comfortable together as a team and probably won’t go away without Emily again for a long time!

We have been trying to figure out why Emily still has a constant stuffy nose, along with coughing and nosebleeds. We visited Dr. Powell in State College and he set up visits with specialists to see if we can solve the sinus problem and check for any other problems that can occur from all of the chemotherapy Em has had. She is currently taking four medications to help treat whatever is going on. Hopefully things will improve but she’s had it since April and it hasn’t improved. She did get normal blood test results last week and we are thankful for every day that the T-cells are working. We also ate at (and would like to THANK) the Texas Roadhouse in State College last Wednesday. They contacted us about doing a fundraiser in Emily’s name. They are donating 10% of the food sales that night to our TEAM BELIEVE for the Parkway Run & Walk in Philadelphia this fall. That money will go directly to cancer research at CHOP.

This weekend we attended the Philipsburg Relay for Life and we were honored that they asked Emily to help carry the banner and lead the survivors lap. Emily and I each won a donated gift basket as well. We took Emily’s friend Manna Potter with us to the Relay and Kari and I just laughed when Emily asked us to leave them walk alone and to give her some space. Cancer affects so many families and it still overwhelms me the amount of support we continue to have even though everybody has their own problems to deal with. We still discuss how important it is to pray for everyone fighting a life threatening illness and Emily really likes helping others that are sick. Emily and I attended church today on Father’s Day and I got all choked up thinking about what it would be like for me, and what it is like for all the parents I know, whose kids are now in heaven. It makes it hard to breathe when those thoughts happen but I have learned to deal with it and stay positive. Those thoughts remind me of how fortunate I am to have my daughter with me every day.
We are returning to Washington DC this week for a national child advocacy day. Emily will get to meet other kids that have fought life threatening diseases from all over the country. We are headed down Tuesday thru Thursday. Wednesday will be a fun day planned for all the kids and then Thursday we will go back to Capitol Hill and meet with Congress members from our home state. We are trying our best to continue to spread the word on where the National Institutes of Health research money is going and the amazing results it is helping produce. We are also telling them all, THANKS for funding it in the past. Without research funds cancer will win. We aren’t going to let that happen! We have seen some more kids lose their battles lately and we are praying for their families. We also pray for all current families fighting daily to get their kids or themselves into a permanent remission. We have had more media requests lately about Emily’s treatment and we will update everyone as soon as we know for sure when they will take place.


  • Jim J.. - Here I am six years after the tragedy that got me involved with the LLS in the first place. The horror stories are still outweigh the triumphs in number. But not in character and value.

    Emily’s story is amazing and is one of the things that drives me on to keep doing what I do. A lovely innocent girl that was dealt one of the worst hands in life. Every day I hear about her makes me think about why I do what I do.

    Em – even when they are away your parents think about you. When I’m away from home my dog constantly thinks about me. It breaks my heart that I can’t be here every waking moment to be with him. But the time away is necessary. Soon you will learn about jobs and college and real life stuff that might not e the most exciting. But you will realize that in the big picture you can have the joy of knowing that despite having a life that’s been less than ideal this planet can hope that one day the disease that stole your childhood can be eradicated.

    So for Christmas this year ask for a pony. Or whatever. Shoot for the moon. I personally will try to make your dreams come true. You deserve it.ReplyCancel

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