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.
There is an article in the May 26th issue of Forbes Magazine – it’s mainly about Novartis and how they are making the T-cell therapy a priority so that more patients can be treated. They included Emily’s story in the article which you read online here.
Forbes wanted original photos of Emily but due to our travel schedule they were having a difficult time scheduling a photographer for a photo shoot. So they hired me! They needed photos in 48 hours and of course the weather forecast showed pouring rain over the next 48 hours. We had a break in the weather right before school one morning where I took a few photos of Emily and Lucy for about 5 minutes before it started to rain again. We waited until later that evening when the rain stopped for about 15 minutes and I took more photos. I typically only take photos outside in natural light but I did manage to get some inside. They wanted photos of Emily doing every day things and didn’t want her looking at the camera. The first photo above is the one used in the magazine and the others are just some of my favorites!
I like this one in black and white.Of course most of the photos also had Lucy in them!
A few weeks ago we spent the day in Philadelphia at Penn to speak at the Abramson Cancer Center Director’s Leadership Council meeting. We had a chance to talk with a few of the extraordinary people who helped to fund the T-cell research that saved Emily’s life. Some provided private funding or endowments for the research very early on when no one else believed in the research. They all mentioned that after talking with Dr. June that they just believed in him and believed his research would save lives. It was an honor to speak to this group who supported the research from the beginning. Without them, Emily would not be here. One person came to me and told me that her brother passed away from leukemia 23 years ago. The day after she started an endowment fund and has since been providing funding for cancer research. She said she has been waiting 23 years to hear a success story like Emily. It made us realize the importance of sharing Emily’s story so that we can do our small part to raise awareness, and hopefully the needed funding, for pediatric cancer research. We also got to see the new (bigger) lab space where they are modifying the T-cells. After that, we went to visit Avrey and her family. Avrey is 10-years old and recently recently received her T-cells (you can follow her Facebook page Pray for Avrey Walker). She needs a miracle too.
After that, we visited the Penn Museum because Emily heard that there were mummies there – but after seeing the mummies she said they were a little “creepy”. It was a really wonderful day!