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

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Today we are celebrating that Emily is officially two years cancer free! Still believing in miracles…



2012-04-27 21.26.44PINIMAGETwo years ago on this night our family members came to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to be with Emily. The doctors told us to call them in because the end of Emily’s life was near. We asked for prayers and they came from all over the world. I told them that somehow I knew that Emily would make it through the night and keep fighting. The pediatric intensive care doctor said we are the biggest P.I.C.U. in the country and almost every child that is put on a ventilator makes it through and survives. Unfortunately your daughter is most likely not going to be one of them. She has less than a one in a thousand chance of survival. Kids just don’t recover from being this sick.

I asked for them to never quit trying to help her because she would make it through. He looked at me like I was the most naive parent in the world. He did say though that we will never stop trying to help her survive. We had our family members and our Penn State family members talk to Em and encourage her to keep fighting. She made it through that night and slowly started to get better. I posted then that I BELIEVED that I was witnessing a miracle.

Thanks to everyone that prayed for Em and helped us in so many different ways. Thanks to all the amazing doctors, scientists, and staff that treated Em through her entire fight. Thanks to all of the families that walked the road before us and helped guide and support us. I feel very lucky and thankful for every day that I spend with my hero. Em will be two years cancer free on 5-10-14. I feel that during your darkest hours never give up hope and keep your faith!

Sometimes Miracles do happen!

We Believe!


  • Diana Dircio - Whitehead family:

    I heard about your story only a few days ago, and it makes me feel so happy for you and very hopeful about achievements that have been made that science can give hope to anyone with any disease.
    In my family we have had two cases of breast cancer, unfortunately one of them was detected very late but the other case was detected on time and we managed to fight it.
    Your story is inspiring and gives hope to people who know about it.
    I send you a big hug and blessings, hoping that Emma can continue with a life of health and happiness.

    Sincerely, Diana.ReplyCancel

  • esw - I remember that night well. I remember praying and crying. We knew there was much more to your posts of her real condition you spared us from. I remember hugging my kids tighter and singing them to sleep. I know God is capable of amazing things, and I was praying it was His will to pull her through. Thank you for letting us into your lives. Your love and strength as a family has been an inspiration to us all. Emily’s journey will change many lives… of that, I am sure! I know it has changed mine and my family’s! Still believing……….. <3ReplyCancel

  • Melissa Patrick - That brings tears to my eyes just thinking about that night .I remember it like it was yesterday ,I sat vigil by the computer ,Praying and waiting for the updates to come. Deep down I knew she was going to pull through and God had special plans for her. Emily will always hold a special place in my heart. Lots of hugs and prayers,MelissaReplyCancel

  • Erik Nainggolan - Very inspiring. Neva, my daughter was diagnosed with the same Leukemia as Emily, but she passed away piecefully.

    But Emily story had INSPIRED as and we BELIEVED too until the end… for us she had WON the battle. Because she fought to the end with us… Thanks Kari, for replying to my emails prior to Neva’s passing.

    Thanks for sharing and inspiring.

    Erik NainggolanReplyCancel

This week marks two years since Emily had the T-cell therapy! Has it really been two years already?! We are headed to Philadelphia later today for her 2-year follow-up visit at CHOP. We will be there Wednesday and Thursday for several appointments. Wednesday is her oncology visit including bloodwork which she hasn’t had done for several months now. It has actually been nice not seeing labs – it’s hard not to panic every time her labs look a little off, and I’ve realized that not seeing labs and obsessing over every value has helped me worry less about Emily’s health the past few months. The weeks leading up to an appointment are always stressful though and we will be anxious until we see normal bloodwork. She also has to get a renal ultrasound to check her kidneys. The PBS film crew will be following Emily at her appointment and throughout the day to get some footage for the cancer documentary.

After her appointments Wednesday we will stay overnight with Emily’s Aunt Kristen and Uncle Nick so Emily can meet her new baby cousin Sam! She has a few other appointments back at CHOP on Thursday with pulmonology and immunology to hopefully figure out why she can’t get rid of the cough/congestion she’s had for quite awhile.

We have some travel coming up over the next few weeks to Philadelphia (twice), Pittsburgh (Emily is a junior bridesmaid in Aunt Brenda’s wedding!), Washington DC, and NYC. Also during that time we will be celebrating Emily’s 9th birthday (May 2nd) and then her 2-year cancer free anniversary (May 10th)! It will be busy but we’re looking forward to it – with her birthday and anniversary coming up we are more thankful than ever that she’s healthy (at least we hope so – we always worry about saying that until we see normal bloodwork!).

  • Barb Diebold - Hi there!! Hi Emma!! 🙂 2 years! Wow! Enjoy seeing your posts and watching her grow! Your story is an inspiration to so many .. Thank you for the update.. Enjoy seeing the new baby and a junior bridesmaid how fun!! In my prayers and I’m around the corner if you need anything while you are here. We believe! Love to you all -b.ReplyCancel