Healthline’s Best + 200K

Best_of_Blogs_Lung_Cancer_2013_1Healthline.com is a website dedicated to improving health through information.  It provides readers with various health content promoting healthy lifestyles, disease prevention, and other relevant information for people looking for answers to their health questions.  This past week Healthline.com published a list of the Nine Best Lung Cancer Blogs of 2013.  Guess which blog made the list…

EmBen Kicks Cancer!!!!

The blog was started a year and a half ago to provide information on Emily’s condition to relatives and friends to ease the communication burden on her immediate family.  As doctors formulated the best course of action, the blog was used to raise funds for fertility and cancer treatments.  However, as her journey progressed, the blog evolved.  Eighteen months later the blog has now been viewed in over 120 countries.  This past week EmBen Kicks Cancer surpassed the 200,000 view mark!!  We are thankful for all of the support, and so very happy to be able to extend help and hope to others battling this disease.

Ho Ho HOakdale

Last December after her 6th round of chemotherapy, Emily and Miles hosted “Deck the Halls of Brentwood”, a wildly successful holiday party at their apartment in Brentwood.  Now that they own a home on Oakdale Ave in a neighborhood known as Candy Cane Lane, it was only fitting that Emily and Miles host “Ho Ho HOakdale” and try to outdo their own holiday spirit from one year ago.

Emily tapped back into her holiday Pinterest board and prepared an incredible spread of festive foods that could make even the most gluttonous elf feel full all the way to the tip of his pointy little ears…

HohohOakdale Food

Miles took the lead on entertainment and made sure that between the music, the games, and the photo booth with props, there was never a dull moment.  All attendees were required to wear their most festive holiday sweater or costume.  Side note – if you want to know what constitutes top notch holiday costume please see Nate Folk, aka The Grinch.  He was a regular celebrity on Oakdale Ave as the cars that were driving around to look at the holiday lights would stop and entire families would pour out to take photos with him.

HohohOakdale Friends

Party goers also braved the bumper to bumper traffic that was inching around the neighborhood (seriously, it looked eerily similar to the 405 freeway at 5PM..) and went for a late night stroll on foot to check out the holiday displays.  Needless to say, the houses on Candy Cane Lane did not disappoint.  It was almost possible to hear the electricity meters humming in overdrive as millions of colorful lights twinkled, snow flurries flew in larger than life inflatable snow globes, and robotic reindeer pulled Santa around.

HohohOakdale Decorations

Overall it was a fun and festive night to celebrate good friends and good health this holiday season.  If you are in the neighborhood, or flying overhead, keep an eye out for Miles’ and Emily’s house – you will be able to identify it by this special light display on the roof…

Holiday Hope

A Thankful Turkey Day

Thanksgiving DinnerThanksgiving has always been one of Emily’s favorite holidays.  Admittedly, in the past, this was because she loved the food so much.  But this year it was particularly special as it provided an opportunity to relax, spend quality time with family, and be truly grateful for her health.

This same time last year, just a few days before Thanksgiving, Emily was supposed to receive her 5th round of chemotherapy.  While she was hoping to feel well enough for turkey and all the fixin’s, she also worried that the chemotherapy side effects would forever associate the taste of Thanksgiving food with nausea (which has unfortunately been the case with numerous foods).  However, any negative connection was averted when her treatment was delayed due to low platelet counts.  While you may assume that Emily did a jig at the opportunity to now gorge on stuffing and mashed potatoes (well, okay, there was a little jig), the fact that she would go a whole extra week without treatment was nerve-wracking and altogether unwelcome.

The GuysFor the first holiday since her diagnosis, cancer was not the focal point, and Thanksgiving 2013 was about laughter and celebration.  Making it even more special, Emily’s family – Shelley, Kevin, and Chris – flew to Los Angeles to spend the holiday in Emily and Miles’ new home.  The whole family relished the opportunity to breathe easy over Emily’s newfound strength and health, and to be together for copious amount of movies and board games (Chris is quite the Uno player, beware!).

Preparations

As for the meal, Shelley and Emily cooked a marvelous feast, which led to Emily collapsing into her bed by early afternoon for a much-needed siesta.  Meanwhile, the Bennett men intended on spending Thanksgiving lounging on the couch watching football, but once Miles enthusiastically educated them on the rich history of their new neighborhood “Candy Cane Lane”, and the responsibility of each homeowner to decorate in excess of Clark Griswold, they sprung into action.  Soon, lights were dripping off the gutters, wood cutouts of Frosty and Christmas trees lined the yard, and life-size Santa Clause blow-ups were dancing on the rooftop.  Although the electricity bill may now rival the mortgage payment, it’s pretty cool to be able to see your house from space, right? 🙂

Decorating

While it may have seemed like just another holiday visit with family, to Miles and Emily this Thanksgiving was so much more.  It was a reminder to cherish those things that are truly valuable – family, friends, and health.  Emily and Miles are grateful for your incredible support and love over the past year and a half.  You’ve help get them to this point, and for that, they are so very, very thankful.

Happy Holidays

From the Pacific to The Atlantic: Emily is Big News

Emily was recently contacted by The Atlantic for an article about lung cancer.  Published today, and prominently featuring our favorite survivor, the article is titled “Why Do Healthy Non-Smokers Get Lung Cancer?”  It includes the research on why anyone with lungs is at risk for lung cancer, and what is being done about it.

You can read the article HERE.  Please help spread the news – forward, re-post, and tweet the story!

The Atlantic_Lungs

Emily’s CT & Brain MRI Results Arrive Post Gala

The 2013 Bonnie J Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (BJALCF) Gala united over 40 lung cancer survivors with researchers, oncologists, surgeons, pharmaceutical execs, fundraisers, foundation workers, volunteers, and hundreds of steadfast and generous supporters in the cause to eradicate lung cancer.

Three distinguished and radiant survivors:  Emily “EmBen” Taylor, Bonnie J. Addario and Hank Baskett, Sr. at the San Francisco Fairmont Hotel Ballroom.

Three distinguished and radiant survivors: Emily “EmBen” Taylor, Bonnie J. Addario, and Hank Baskett, Sr. at the San Francisco Fairmont Hotel Ballroom.

Bonnie’s daughters are at the heart of the BJALCF – Danielle Hicks, Director of Patient Services and Programs (left), and Andrea Parks, Director of Event Strategy and Marketing (right).

Emily and Natalie DiMarco join in the applause as the Gala survivors are asked to stand. This year had more survivors than any of the previous seven Gala events, thanks in large part to the work of the BJALCF.

Speech 1 Miles

After awards were presented for Outstanding Service in the Field, and the BJALCF 2013 video was shown (watch HERE if you missed it!), two of the video’s participants were asked to take the stage. Miles told the audience about INHERIT, a new study funded by the BJALCF, carried out at the Dana Farber Institute at Harvard, that will seek to determine if the T790 gene in lung cancer can be inherited, like the BRCA gene in breast cancer.

Speech 2 Emily

Miles then passed to mic to Emily who shared her personal story and history. Her conclusion was a stunner, “I have nine frozen embryos, and if it’s possible that this gene is inherited, I want to know so that my children can be tested and treated early, so that they will not have to go through the hell that I have been through.”

Speech 3

Bonnie’s husband, Tony, later commented “Every woman at my table was in tears.” The applause left them humbled, but the bigger reward was displayed on the donation screen to their left where audience members punched in donations of $217,300!!!

Josh & Fam

Josh Zazulia (Miles’ college roommate and Best Buddy in their wedding party), joins the family for the happiest of celebrations.

Photo bomb

Miles tries to shows his appreciation to Andrea for pulling off such a spectacular event . . . only to be photo bombed by his sister.

One Lung Dance

Emily continues to enjoy strapless dresses, proudly displaying her long surgical scar. Here she is teaching her family and supporters the One Lung Dance…it involves little foot movement, some dramatic arm flare, and a lot of attitude.

The Results

And now, the news you have all been waiting for: Miles Taylor presents the test results…

Live in the Momemt

EmBen is still NED,
CT scan and brain MRI are clean!
What can be said?
She’s a cancer fighting machine!

James

Visit the gallery of James Hall (center), our favorite photographer EVER, for more photos of the Gala.

Building An Army

We are proud to be part of this special video highlighting the new studies and support provided by the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.  Lung cancer is a global epidemic that needs a global solution.  We are building an army.  Please watch, share, and join us.

Much love,
Emily & Miles

P.S. Happy Birthday, Bonnie J. Addario!  You are our hero!

A Spook-tacular Halloween

Ned and Dr Flores

“NED” Flanders and Dr. Raja Flores

Miles and Emily recently moved into their first house in a neighborhood known locally as “Candy Cane Lane”.  It’s an LA destination for Christmas decorations, and the streets attract thousands of visitors around the holidays.  In other words, a neighborhood right up their alley!  Their new neighbors alerted them that they should expect big crowds on Halloween as well so Emily made sure the house was well-stocked with candy.

In celebration of Emily’s NED status (No Evidence of Disease), she dressed as Ned Flanders and Miles dressed as her surgeon, Dr. Raja Flores.  Friends Nate, Melanie, and baby Parker, and Annie and John came over to join in the Halloween festivities (and, unbeknownst at the time, to assist with crowd control).

Sushi and Chef

Sushi Chef Melanie and her favorite sushi creation, Parker

Emily made a game of counting trick-or-treaters, but gave up around 425.  Miles and Nate, meanwhile, had their own game going on with the costumed kiddies.  Each trick-or-treater who came to the house got a piece of candy; however, if they were willing to shoot a basketball on Miles’ new hoop, each kid could earn five extra pieces of candy for a made basket.  Jackpot!!

Mel, Em, and Annie

Melanie, Emily, and Annie distributing candy to the masses

As you can imagine, the line down their driveway was soon over a hundred trick-or-treaters deep.  Oh, and if the kid [teenager] was 16 or older, they got one piece of candy for a bucket.  If they missed, they got a “Go get a job!” from Nate.  Needless to say, the candy ran out long before the massive crowds of trick-or-treaters subsided.  Emily has already made a note to buy more next year..

It was a wonderful first holiday in their new home, and Emily and Miles are looking forward to many more.  Hope you all had a spook-tacular Halloween!

Halloween Crowds

Every superhero, princess, and monster wanted a chance to shoot a basket and score extra candy!

Second Annual BJALCF 5K

Last weekend over 50 of Emily’s most dedicated and spirited supporters descended on San Francisco for Team EmBen’s second annual appearance at the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (BJALCF) “Your Next Step is the Cure” 5K event.  It was beautiful and sunny out – simply a perfect day for thousands of folks to rally together in the fight against lung cancer.  Team EmBen raised almost $10K for the cause, and overall the event raised $320K.  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!!  Here are a few photos highlighting the incredible day…

Team EmBen SF 5K

Team EmBen, fifty people strong, looking spry and spirited, as usual.

5K13_IMG_6028

Emily’s cousin Amy (left) coordinated a top secret operation that brought Emily’s brother, Chris, and other cousin Lindsay (right) in to San Francisco for the race from out of state. Emily was completely surprised and having her family take part in all of the festivities made the day even more memorable.

Nate and Sign Dominating

This is Nate, he is one of Emily’s biggest supporters and, for the second year in a row, he ran the ENTIRE race carrying the Team EmBen sign high overhead. Nate and his wife Melanie have a 3 month old baby, Parker, who happens to be Emily’s littlest BIG supporter.  He also completed the 5K in an “I Heart EmBen” onsie with a sign on his stroller. Like father, like son..

Emily, Bonnie, and Natalie

Emily with fellow lung cancer survivors and champions of the cause – Bonnie (middle) and Natalie (right)

Taylor Family

The Taylor family used their lungs to dominate the running portion of the event for the second year in a row.  EmTay won the women’s 39 and under division while Rich won the Grand Masters category. Meanwhile, Miles took home the award for most wrist/arm flare.

Lung Run Collage 1Lung Run Collage 2

Lung Run Collage 3

If you did not get to take part in the 5K in San Francisco you can still support this great event.  Click here to make a donation and join the rest of Team EmBen in the fight against lung cancer.

Finally, a great big thank you to James Hall, who captured many of these wonderful images from the day.  If you would like to see more photos, please visit his website here.

Attention San Francisco Bay Area EmBen Supporters

Marissa Bus Stop

Marissa is pumped to pour cocktails – come visit and test her mixology skills!

This Thursday, September 26th, Emily and Miles’ college friends Marissa and Josh will be hosting a fundraising event from 6 – 9 PM for Team EmBen at Soda Popinski’s (1548 California St, San Francisco, CA 94109).

Josh Lung run

Josh would LOVE to make you a drink – won’t you stop by and make his night?!

Stop by, say hello, and grab a drink or two!!  Marissa and Josh will be bartending and ALL tips from this three hour window will go towards Team EmBen.  Raffle tickets will also be sold for some awesome prizes, and all proceeds go to Team EmBen for this Sunday’s race.

Speaking of, if you still haven’t signed up or donated for the 5K, please CLICK HERE to do so now!  

Steve Harvey…and One Cup of $5 Tea

Emily made her national television debut on the Steve Harvey Show on Thursday.  She was beautiful, poised, and eloquent as she shared her story and thanked her personal hero and mentor, Bonnie Addario.  If you missed the live show, you can watch Emily and Bonnie’s segment HERE.

EmHam and EmTay at Steve HarveyDuring the Steve Harvey taping, Emily had two familiar faces cheering her on in the audience – her sister in law, Emily Taylor (EmTay), and EmTay’s best friend from college, Emily Hampson (EmHam).  (Note: Miles also managed to sneak in despite not meeting the prerequisite of being named Emily)  EmHam has been a huge supporter of EmBen – she sends regular care packages and will be making the trek from her hometown of Chicago to San Francisco for the Lung Run on September 29th.  EmHam has her own blog and this week she made this poignant post to help raise funds and drive awareness.

One Cup of $5 Tea

Next Wednesday, Sept 25th, I will turn 33.  There was never any question in my mind that I might not reach this age.  That I wouldn’t be married, settled in the suburbs with a toddler hanging off my hip, scrubbing crusted spaghetti sauce off the inside of the microwave.  I am certain I have managed to take for granted most of my 12,000 plus days here on Earth and I have done so with the careless comfort of believing that death was something you fumbled upon in your 80’s and even 90’s.  I have had other vital matters to attend to.  Like fretting over the zit that perennially forms in the crease of my chin and those flights that were delayed over two hours due to tornadoes in the Oklahoma Panhandle and the nor’easter in Maine, and my beloved houndstooth sweater that shrunk in the dryer, not once but twice.  I have been aimlessly distracted, attempting to recall ridiculously devised computer passwords, hunting down parking spots, burning frozen pizzas in the oven, and making sure my daughter didn’t rip the pages out of all the Dr. Seuss books.  For the past 33 years, I have had that pleasure.  This past year, however, everything was jarred.  Shaken up and stirred. 

I found out a year ago this past July that my best friend from college’s sister-in-law had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer at 28.  She was a star volleyball player in college, a newlywed, a gorgeous and avid athlete, and a person who had never once touched a cigarette.  Her name is also Emily.  And I guarantee you she would have given anything that summer to worry about marinara in her microwave. 

Emily’s good friends started a blog last year help keep those who cared for her informed throughout her journey.  She endured multiple rounds of chemo out in Los Angeles, which led to a complete lung removal surgery in New York this February, followed by 28 unrelenting radiation treatments.  With her family, a buttress of steel behind her, Emily has battled, fought, persevered, and maintained her lovely sense of humor and gracious spirit with gargantuan grit and guts.  She is officially NED (No Evidence of Disease) as of this spring, and is gaining her strength and stamina back little by little with the support of streaming Netflix, electrolyte water, daily walks with her pooch, and her loving and devoted husband, Miles.  Likely not in that order.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being a guest in the audience when Emily made her television debut at a taping of the Steve Harvey show here in Chicago. The producers had flown her in from the West Coast so that she could surprise and thank her mentor and hero, Bonnie Addario, Founder and President of the Bonnie Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, who has raised over $10 million for research, medical support, and awareness to eradicate this devastating disease.  There was Steve Harvey’s perfectly-positioned couch.  And there was this breathtakingly beautiful girl with long brown hair and a poppy red dress, poised and postured with her ankles crossed under the glare of the studio cameras.   The gasps in the audience were audible when it was revealed that she was in fact the face of lung cancer.  This bright young woman, oozing with the promise of a giant life yet to live, sitting there, confiding her brutal battle to simply survive. 

I was shocked at how neglected lung cancer funding is when I did some digging online.  It is the most lethal cancer, and yet it receives the least amount of funding from the National Cancer Institute.   It garners a fraction of the dollars that go to breast cancer, for example, and yet is second only to heart disease in cause of death.    There seems to be a stigma associated with lung cancer as a smoker’s condition that is self-inflicted.  However, more and more young non-smokers and especially women are contracting it.  All the while funding is desperately needed to aid these patients and educate the public on belying the myths of lung cancer.  Even the ribbon signifying the disease was formerly clear, giving subtle reference to its invisibility and lack of deserved attention.  It has since evolved to white and I will be proudly wearing that ribbon next week when I run in the Your Next Step is the Cure 5K in San Francisco with Team EmBen.  Did I say run?  Okay, jog… well, powerwalk for sure.  I will cross that finish line though, despite being embarrassingly out of shape and floppy in various key places. 

Which leads me to my 33rd birthday.  I’m not in the habit of buying lavish birthday gifts for my compadres, but who doesn’t love splurging on a draft pint or classy cosmo for a friend, toasting to their companionship and to another year of warding off grey hair?  Pretend I am that friend this week….. that you are treating me to a steaming cup of earl grey (decaf for those who really know me) and a long overdue chat, and instead toss some change to the Bonnie Addario fundraising site in honor of EmBen.   I even put the website here to make it easy for you: CLICK HERE TO DONATE!!!

And remember to set your DVRs this Thursday, September 19th to watch a poignant story of survival and support unfold on the Steve Harvey Show (NBC).  Never mind that it comes after a teen sexting segment, I promise you will be moved.  I promise you will turn off the television and not care that you forgot to buy the orange juice at the supermarket.  And I hope you may just feel inspired enough to “take me out” for a $5 tea… 

                                                                                           

There is still time to donate or register to join EmBen, EmHam, and EmTay at the Lung Run in San Francisco as they walk/powerwalk/run to end lung cancer.  All of the details can be found HERE.  Thanks for your support, hopefully we’ll see you next weekend!!!

https://vimeopro.com/lungcancerfoundation/news/video/75054783