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

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If you follow Emily’s Facebook page you know that Emily spent Christmas in the hospital. The Wednesday before Christmas she had an appointment with Dr. Powell. During the day she was feeling fine but later that day developed a cough. Her ANC was low – that plus a few other blood work values suggested a possible viral infection. Sure enough, over the next few days her cough got worse, she developed a runny/stuffy nose and sore throat. On Friday, she had less energy which continued into Saturday. Saturday we were making Christmas cookies when I hugged her and noticed she was warm. Her temperature was around 100 but climbed to over 101 within an hour so we went to the ER. She initially tested negative for both strep and the flu. Her counts were still low and she had belly pain, so Dr. Powell admitted her to Mt. Nittany for the night. The next morning she spiked a temp of 102.9 and started feeling worse. She was transferred to Hershey Medical Center by ambulance (just as a precaution and so they could continue giving her IV fluids) and she was there until Thursday. At HMC she tested positive for Influenza type A and RSV! Two viruses at once. She was feeling pretty sick the first few days and her fever stayed between 101-102. Since she had the flu she was isolated in her room so the virus didn’t spread to others.

We discovered that thinking about being in the hospital for Christmas is worse than actually being there for Christmas. Once we realized we weren’t going to be home we made the best of it. I mean really, we already had the best gift of all – Emily! Our Christmas Eve and Christmas were still filled with joy and happiness because we were together, which is all that really mattered. We also had visitors from our Penn State THON family! On Christmas Eve, Chelsea came to visit and brought lots of treats. On Christmas, Angela and Kelsey, Kelsey’s mom, and Kelsey’s friend came to visit (Kelsey and Angela danced 46 hours for Emily at THON last year). They brought things for Emily to make a gingerbread house. Santa made it to the hospital and brought a few of Emily’s gifts for her to open Christmas morning, including the gift she wanted most – a purple guitar!

While we were at the hospital, Tom and I had a chance to tour the new Children’s hospital at Hershey Medical Center that opens on January 13th. It is amazing! It will help so many other pediatric patients and families and we’re happy that they have such a great new facility (although we hope to spend as little time there as possible!).

Emily was discharged Thursday late afternoon. She seemed to feel OK the rest of Thursday but then today spent much of the time in bed; however, this evening she has more energy and is running around and playing.

1. Decorated Emily’s hospital room for Christmas
2. Emily and Chelsea on Christmas Eve
3. Emily making a gingerbread house on Christmas
4. There actually is a gingerbread house under under all that candy!
5. Emily and her purple guitar
5. Music therapist Tina helping Emily tune her new guitar

  • Larry D Green - Little Ray of Sunshine (Emily)

    Merry Christmas to you and your Mom and Dad and family.Glad to hear you are filling better.Bet it was fun making a gingerbread house. After looking at the picture of the gingerbread house you are a Good cooker just like Gramie Sandy. And that picture of your new purple guitar is really Cool. Santa bought my granddaughter Claire who is 9 years old, a guitar with a purple carrying case not as Cool as the purple one you received.Did you get a lot of snow at your house ,we got about 6/8 inches in Erie sure did make it alot easier for Santa to get all his toys to the all children. Best wishes to you and M&D- 2013 will be better yearReplyCancel

  • karen - sorry to hear that Emily / Emma 🙂 had another hospital stay but very happy that she is back home and that you all made the most of the stay. she sure is a well loved little girl. gotta say, i loved all the pictures and loved how her jammies matched the guitar but the picture that made me smile the most is the gingerbread house. i think she has a future in decorating. 🙂ReplyCancel

We have been waiting to share this with you! This is the short film by Academy Award winning Director Ross Kauffman about the clinical trial and Emily’s story. It is AMAZING and VERY powerful to watch!

  • Meena Hissami - I will never be the same after watching this exquisite story. Thank you Emma and family for what your strength and hope has done for humanity. Specifically, thank you for being the conduit that made the cure of all 20th century cures possible – the end of cancer as we may know it.ReplyCancel

  • Jason McCliment - Guys, what an amazing journey you have all been on, and what a strong little girl you have in Emily! As a parent of three children I don’t know how you guys did it, it amazes me how strong you guys were through that whole ordeal, I don’t know if I could have done that like you both. Thank the lord everything turned out like it did and continued good luck and success!

    Jason McClimentReplyCancel

  • Christine Schreck - AMAZING!!!! MOVING!!! We are so happy to be a part of your family!!!! Love!ReplyCancel

  • karen - PRAISE GOD and praise all of the doctors, the trial, and your faith and hope and prayers that caused the doctor to choke up! AMEN!ReplyCancel

Welcome to all our new friends on Emily’s page! We are explaining to a lot of people that Emily is her birth name, but during her battle she decided that she preferred to be called Emma. Thank you for all of the positive messages. We are reading them and we wish we had time to respond to each one. We knew there would be interest in Emily’s story but didn’t expect it to spread so fast and so far. Our hope is that by sharing Emily’s story we can help.

Emily is doing pretty well although she was having some stomach trouble over the weekend. We found out this week that she has c-diff back again. She is back on an antibiotic for the next couple of weeks. We are also waiting to see if the Salmonella grows again too. We don’t think it will because she’s already doing much better since starting the antibiotic for c-diff.
We have been sharing in our interviews how much support we have had from everybody, what a great community we live in, and how many people have been praying for Emily. We also talk constantly about our THON support and how much Emily looks forward to being at THON this year. We give credit to all of the hospitals and staff that are like family to us and have helped get Emily to this point. The focus of the media story right now is to get the information out about the cart 19 study to help save lives. We wanted everyone to know that we are THANKFUL for your support and hopeful Emily’s entire story of her miracle journey gets out to everyone.
We Believe~Tom,Kari,and Emma
  • Barbara Diebold - Happy for you too! Amazing things happening! Give Em hugs from us:)ReplyCancel

  • Rose Knepp Kneppy's Fireworks Winburne PA - I am so happy for you all! Like I said before, Emily is a pioneer! like going to the moon for the first time, she has underwent a treatment that may be a cure for others in her situation. I can’t imagine how difficult the journey has been, alot of ups & downs and Thank God she is here and that is priceless. I have a little idea as I journeyed beside my friend as he recieved chemotherapy for Lymphoma. It is difficult to watch someone you love go through the ordeal but thank God for Emily’s progress :o) I wish you all a Blessed Christmas and beyond! God Bless and Keep you!ReplyCancel