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

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Back in July, Emily was asked to be part of the Stand Up to Cancer Telethon (the telethon aired on September 5th – I’m just now blogging about it 🙂 ). As part of the telethon they filmed a segment about Emily and highlighted the T-cell therapy treatment. Stand Up to Cancer has provided millions of dollars in funding to help continue research on the T-cell therapy. We filmed back in July which included a trip to Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, PA. Stand Up to Cancer, along with Mastercard who was a sponsor of the telecast, wanted to surprise Emily with something fun. She L-O-V-E-S to visit Nemacolin! We took her there in 2010 shortly after she was diagnosed with leukemia to get away for a weekend and just do something fun. She was scheduled for some tough chemotherapy the following week and we knew she would likely spend some time in the hospital, so we wanted to do something special with her. We decided on a trip to Nemacolin which she enjoyed so much and continued to talk about it over the years. We had not been back to Nemacolin with Emily since then although she had asked to go back many, many times! Everyone decided that a trip back there should be her surprise!

At Nemacolin, Emily had a behind the scenes tour of the zoo where she fed lions, tigers, and bears (bears love marshmallows!). She also bottle fed a baby goat and visited a few other exotic animals. She went horseback riding and ended the day with ziplining! She loves adventure and had a great time! Thank you so much to Nemacolin Woodlands, Mastercard, and Rachel and the film crew for making for making the experience incredibly fun for Emily!

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Emily was invited to attend the live Stand Up to Cancer telethon in Hollywood at the Dolby Theatre. It was awesome to have that experience! The night before the event we even had a chance to see Dave Matthews perform a few songs since he wasn’t able to be live for the actual taping (Emily is now a Dave Matthews fan!). Emily walked the red carpet and was excited to see Ariana Grande perform at the live event. We went to the after party and met Katie Couric! Emily also met a few other girls her age who are fighting cancer (I wish we had their names!).

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If you missed the live broadcast you can see Emily’s segment here:

And watch the entire 1-hour show here:

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Emily told us back in May that in honor of her 9th birthday she wanted to raise $9,000 to donate to cancer research. When we asked her why she chose that amount she said “because it’s my 9th birthday!” Then she said “well, let’s just make it $10,000 – an extra $1,000 to grow on!”

In honor of Emily’s 9th birthday – and celebrating two years cancer free – we want to help her meet her goal. The goal is to raise $9,000 – er, $10,000 – by the end of September (Childhood Cancer Awareness Month)!!

 

 

 

 

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(continued from Part 1)

The day after Emily’s birthday party we drove to Washington DC for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) national conference. We were invited to sit on panel with doctors and scientists so that we could share the patient perspective. Emily sat with us – how many 9-year olds get to sit on a scientific panel with doctors from Penn, Harvard and the FDA?! She drew pictures during the panel – including a picture of T-cells attacking cancer cells. She’s pretty used to these events now and during one of the receptions she left us and said “I’m going to walk around and see who I know”. Usually everyone knows her so she ends up talking to a lot of people. She didn’t even sit with us at dinner – she saw the girls from the Central PA chapter of LLS who she met at another event last year and preferred to sit with them 🙂

Emily with the Central PA chapter of LLS.
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At the one of the dinner receptions we met two amazing girls who shared their stories:

  •      Erin Zammett Ruddy is an 11-year leukemia survivor. She was diagnosed when she was 23 years old and just 18 months later her sister was diagnosed with lymphoma (she is also a survivor!).
  •      Jessica Melore is a survivor of a massive heart attack (at age 16), heart transplant, leg amputation, and cancer (twice). She is now a motivational speaker. She happened to be sitting beside us at breakfast and started talking about this amazing cancer organization and that she was going to their gala to receive an award – we realized we were both going to the Solving Kids Cancer Spring Gala two days later! So we saw her twice in one week. 

Photo of Emily with Erin and Jessica.
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From DC we drove to NYC to attend the Solving Kids Cancer Spring Gala. SKC is an organization created by two families who lost children to neuroblastoma. The organization raises millions of dollars each year to fund research for more effective and less toxic cures for pediatric cancer patients, including the T-cell therapy and other immunotherapy trials. The emcee for the evening was actor Josh Lucas and was co-hosted by fashion designers Bonnie Young, Donna Karan, Carolina Herrera, and others. The event raised more than $700,000! SKC is making a very big difference in funding research to find better treatments for pediatric cancer.

Emily was dressed for the event by Bonnie Young. We met with her the morning of the gala and Emily tried on several dresses before choosing the pink one (we were surprised she didn’t like a purple dress she tried on!). Thank you to Bonnie Young – it was fun for Emily and us (and thank you to Bonnie’s daughter, Celia Babini, for letting Emily borrow your sandals)!

Scott Kennedy and John London who started the foundation
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Actor Josh Lucas as the emcee
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Emily on stage with auctioneer Sarah Goulet
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Emily with Bonnie Young and Donna Karan / Being interviewed with Donna Karan
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Emily with our friends Becky and Ariana (Penn State and THON alum!)
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Overall, Emily’s birthday week was really fun but maybe a little too busy! We are glad to have some downtime at home to enjoy the beginning of summer – for a little while anyway! We have some projects and events we are working on and hope to share soon.

Happy Summer!

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  • Erica - Just love this! <3 Emily, you and your family have been through so much and we are thankful we were included. It's an honor to have prayed for you when you were sick, and it is still our honor to pray for you now and many happy years to come!! Have fun changing the world! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Erin - Wow! She is getting so tall! Happy Birthday Emily (and Lucy!!) I just love her smile!ReplyCancel

  • Annie Mann Peters - Well..Just another example of the power of prayer. …So happy you and your story is making history. ..You go girl…Much love and continued great health. ..And your so lucky…Josh Lucas…Love him!!! Rock on Emily Whitehead. ..♡♡♡♡ReplyCancel

  • melissa patrick - Emily has grown up so much ,loved being part of her birthday celebration. Such a beautiful girl . Think if you everyday emily. Lots of hugs and prayers .ReplyCancel

  • Becky Salman - This was such a fun night!! Miss you guys everyday:(ReplyCancel

  • Emily Troiano - Hope you like your Origami Owl necklace and hope I can meet you some day!ReplyCancel

    • Kari - She loves it – she likes showing everyone the little charms! Thank you so much for sending it 🙂