For My Love

When I met my husband, Miles, in college, I was independent, carefree, strong-willed. I wanted a career, and I wasn’t sure marriage or children fit into that. But Miles – he made me laugh like I’d never laughed before. And that’s all it took. His desire for a whole basketball team of kids running around was infectious, and within weeks of dating I knew he was The One.  I was lucky that he felt the same, and am so grateful this streak of luck continues all these years later.

Threshhold

Miles carried me across the threshold of the little cottage we rented after college.

After college, we moved in together, and I got that business-suit-wearing career I’d always dreamed of. Throughout our 20s we worked hard and played hard, enjoying our “kid-free” time.  We got married at 26, and agreed to take a few years to soak up married life, getting in as much travel and adventure as possible.  

When we were 28, “the plunge” was something we were both ready for. Sure, it wasn’t easy giving up the idea of our carefree life, but together, we were ready for the change and responsibilities that a family involved.

Kickin' Cancer's AssInstead, we got cancer. I say “we” because when I was diagnosed with Stage IV non-smokers lung cancer, I never once felt like I was on my own. This diagnosis affected both of us, and every step was made together. Sure, I was the one with the chemo IV in my arm – but Miles was the one lugging half our house into infusions in order to make me more comfortable: a laptop for movies, earphone splitter so we could laugh at comedies together, pillows and blankets for comfort, water and snacks.

Miles allowed me to focus on my treatments, and on beating this beast, while he took care of literally everything else.  He continued to work, but cut back his hours so he could be at every appointment, furiously taking notes and asking questions. He stayed up long after he’d tucked me in – where he guided me through meditation to ask my body to kill the cancer – and would research obscure medical journals from around the globe in search of new treatment options for me.

9.9.12 NED

Only 2 months into treatment, Miles made this doodle for me, depicting my oncologist, Dr. Reckamp, telling me “Emily, you are NED!” At the time, this felt SO far away. A pipe dream. But, Miles believed this was our future; that faith gave me the strength to make it our reality.

He refused to believe the dire predictions of my diagnosis, and shielded me from all the scary statistics. He knew I needed mental peace in order to win this battle, and I trusted him enough not to consult “Dr. Google” on my own. He scheduled second and third opinions, held my hair back as I hugged the toilet bowl, and got me triple chocolate protein shakes when his research showed that I needed to gain some weight before starting chemo. He called those extra pounds my “chemo cushion” and believe me, I wasn’t complaining.

If I was sick, Miles forewent his beloved Steelers football Sundays. If the only thing I was craving was English muffins and applesauce, he’d drop whatever he was doing Hospital_1to go to the store. He made sure our beloved pup, Ginny, was always on hand to snuggle with me on those particularly difficult days. Even though it doesn’t come naturally to him, he accepted the help that family and friends were offering, knowing that it would help him be a better caregiver to me. When we found out I was allergic to the flowers friends were sending, he contacted our amazing support network to thank them, and request that any further gifts be non-floral. He carefully taped each and every get-well card I received onto our dining room walls, creating a wallpaper of hope and encouragement.

I owe the past 3 cancer-free years to my loving husband. He scoffs when I say this, as if his role has been minimal simply because I was the one getting poked and prodded and poisoned. But his role was anything but minimal. He found the surgeon who would operate on me when no one else would, giving me the cure we desperately desired. When radiation knocked me for a loop and I couldn’t get off the couch for months on end, he nursed me back to health, cheering me on as I took each small step toward recovery.

Miles decided, each day, to take some part of the burden off my shoulders.  He never gave up hope, even when the odds were so stacked against me. He never hesitated, even when we had no idea what the future held, or what life after treatment might look like.  He kept his promise that “cancer would never take one day away from us” by never letting me doubt, and always filling me with hope.

And through it all, he continued doing what he does best: he made me laugh. And for me, that’s all it took.

IMG_6835

Before we were even pregnant, Miles surprised me with this shirt for my birthday. I think my grin says it all!

It’s taken a bit longer than we expected, but Miles and I are finally back on track with the life we always imagined. This April, “the plunge” awaits us – as many of you know, we are expecting twin girls via gestational surrogate. I know we are in for a doozie. But, through all the sleepless nights ahead, the midnight feedings, and the new-parent blunders, I have no doubt that Miles will continue doing what he’s always done: he’ll be there, right by my side, for whatever comes our way. And, inevitably, probably even in the middle of an epic double diaper blow-out, he’ll make me laugh. These little girls have no idea how lucky they are – they’ve got the best daddy in the world.

I love you, Miles. So much. Happy Valentine’s Day, baby!
Emmy

Making Dreams Come True

Cancer evokes paralyzing fear as it threatens your entire future.  Life milestones, once assumed inevitable, become unlikely possibilities.   More, your mere existence hinges on factors outside of your control.  The fear can be suffocating; and not just for the patients, but for all those around us.

AYA, ALCF, Bonnie, Corey, Sandy

Hanging out with Bonnie and some of the awesome patients she’s connected me with – Corey Wood and Sandy Jauregui-Baza.

Through my position at the Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF), I am in contact with new patients each week.   The most common question I have is not about side effects or treatments, but rather “How do you deal with the fear?”

Miles often tries to paint a picture that I am stoic under all circumstances.  Almost inhuman with my composure.  I’ll admit his unwavering confidence in my own confidence makes me stronger.  But he forgets that on the day of my diagnosis, it was me he found curled in a ball, sobbing in the shower.  Fear had crippled my legs.  And there, under the falling water, I lay completely vulnerable without any strength.  I was suddenly fighting for my life and I felt unprepared, weak, and frightened.

That night, Miles and I made a vow: Cancer would never steal one more moment from us.  We began to plan and talk about our future…a future without cancer.   Each night, we envisioned the same three scenarios:

One, we would give back and help other patients.  The care and support we were receiving from oncologists, surgeons, family friends, and the ALCF was extraordinary.  We wanted to ensure all patients had the same opportunities and advantages that I was receiving.  And today, thanks to Bonnie, I have been given the opportunity to fulfill this promise each day through my work with her foundation.

Two, we would join in celebration with our family and friends to thank them for their overwhelming support.  You all provided us with the greatest gift: love.  We felt it around us constantly.  It gave us such strength.  It inspired us with so much hope.  It bolstered our fight.   So, we started planning a party that we would throw when I was two years cancer-free to thank everyone who helped make me a survivor.

To be honest, in the summer of 2012, a celebration party felt like a very distant dream.  There was so much to get through in the meantime: chemotherapy, finding a surgeon, traveling to New York for treatment, enduring radiation, a long and difficult recovery, and finding a new “normal.”  Whenever things got tough, Miles would remind me of how incredible our 2 Year NED party was going to be.  Often at night as I struggled, he would start imagining the event.  And to make me smile, he kept making it more and more grandiose. No, this was not going to be a typical summer BBQ.  It was going to be a fancy affair…Lights illuminating the night sky…DJ spinning dance tunes…Caterers walking around offering appetizers with fancy names. He would survey the imaginary crowd of guests and tell me who was there.  It would make me giggle with excitement.  I wanted that day to be a reality so badly.

IMG_1946 cropped

Some of the gang celebrating out on the dance floor!

And on May 23rd, it became one.  Miles and I threw the 2-Year NED party of our dreams.  And let me tell you: IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT!

IMG_7436 (2)

My boyfriend, NED, even made an appearance. And boy was he popular (see pictures below)!

That night, we welcomed about 75 of our dear family and friends to our home to celebrate this momentous occasion. Just as we had imagined over the past three years, the party was spectacular.  We were surrounded by so many people that we could never truly thank in words.  We had family, friends from college, workmates, college coaches, and even Dr. Reckamp and Carrie Christansen, my care team from City of Hope.  And under the glow of about 5,000 white Christmas lights, we ate, drank, and danced the night away in honor of this life event.  In the end, as hard as cancer tried to take away my life milestones, all it did was create new ones to enjoy.

Three, we would spend each night dreaming about our future family….which may not be such a dream anymore…stay tuned for that in the next post! 🙂

Much love. Live in the moment.

Emily

NED party - NED

Saving Young Lives

She asked me to sit down.  I could tell something was not right by the sympathy exuding from her eyes.  “We received your CT Scans…you have a tumor in your right lung, and it appears to be cancer.”

The word “cancer” punched me in the stomach.  I could barely catch my breath.  Fear raced through me.  I started to cry.   My mind panicked.  How will I tell Miles?  My family?  Will I get to have children?  I am only 28 years old…am I going to die?

One in 14 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime.  More than 228,000 people will be diagnosed with the disease in 2014.  Lung cancer is the number one cancer killer, and the second overall cause of death in the US (behind only heart disease).  This disease is a serial killer.  It threatens all…no matter what your age, gender, race, or location.  Yet somehow it is able to kill in relative anonymity and without punishment.  It is not plastered on the news.  Funds for lung cancer research lag far behind other causes and sadly its victims are often ignored or even blamed.

For years Bonnie J Addario and her foundation, the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF), have been giving a voice and a plan of action to lung cancer patients.  The ALCF now is ready to take another step toward putting an end to this disease.  The ALCF is funding the Genomics of Young Lung Cancer (GoYLC) study to stop an alarming trend in lung cancer: young lung cancer.

Young lung cancer diagnoses are unfortunately on the rise.  Each time I walked into a meeting with an oncologist or surgeon following my diagnosis, I was told they were starting to see more and more young patients like myself.  Therefore, it was not surprising to learn that this year the number of patients diagnosed under the age of 40 will increase to nearly 7,000.  These patients will be mostly healthy, athletic, never-smokers – hardly the demographic to be considered at risk for a life threatening disease.  ALCF is not willing to accept the diagnosis of these patients as simply unlucky.  For the first time ever, this group will be studied with a systematic approach to learn why more and more young lives are being cut far too short.

The study is happening during a thrilling time in lung cancer research.  For nearly four decades, lung cancer survival rates have been stagnant around 15%.  In the past decade though, research into the genetic markers of lung cancer tumors has led to enormous breakthroughs.  Genetic mutations like EGFR, ALK, ROS-1 and their respective targeted drugs have been discovered.  Advanced stage patients who have tested positive for these mutations no longer have to undergo low response rate chemotherapy (traditional treatment), but rather can take a less taxing, higher response rate targeted drug.  It has saved countless lives.  Most importantly, it shows that we are finally on the cusp of understanding how to defeat this disease.

The Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute (ALCMI), the sister organization to the ALCF, is going to apply this same targeted therapy strategy in the GoYLC.  Young lung cancer patients’ tumors will be collected and studied.  With the backing of USC and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, ALCMI hopes to find genetic markers and connections among the tumors, which would lead to more effective treatments and a better understanding of who is at risk.

I am beyond excited for this study.  Ever since I started dedicating my time to ALCF I have been inundated with calls from newly diagnosed young lung cancer patients.  It has been both heartbreaking and rewarding.  These are young, healthy people who had their entire lives ahead of them until they, too, had a similar conversation with their doctor.  Just last week I had to tell a 22 year old, recent Cal Berkeley graduate who had just climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro but then received a Stage IV diagnosis, that she was in for the biggest uphill battle of her life.  In my fight, I have been a firm believer in a positive mindset and the overall power of mind over body.  However, I am also a believer in science.

The GoYLC study is about using science to finally get some answers.  Personally, I want to know why Natalie DiMarco, a 32 year old mother of two, got this disease.  I want to do more than just run a 5k each year in Jill Costello’s honor…I want us to learn from her diagnosis and to never let it happen again.  I want to be able to tell the next 22-year-old patient I meet that we know exactly how to defeat her cancer.  The GoYLC study is launching for this exact purpose.  With USC, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and the Silicon Valley based duo of ALCF and ALCMI, I am confident this study is going to improve treatments and save lives.

What you can do:

For those of you non-lung cancer patients (and hopefully that is most of you!), I strongly encourage you to donate to this ground-breaking study.  DONATING can help save the life of anyone you know that has lungs (or even one lung, in my case 🙂 )

We also need patients diagnosed under the age of 40!  If you are willing to participate, it is quite simple – all we need are some tissue slides and a blood test.  In the US, for more information please contact Steven Young, president of ALCMI, at (203) 226-5765 or info@lungcancerfoundation.org, or visit the GoYLC website.  Lung cancer patients living in the US will not be required to travel to any of the above institutions in order to participate.

4th of July Anniversary

I was diagnosed just before Miles’ and my 2nd wedding anniversary. We were overjoyed this year to celebrate our 4th anniversary on the 4th of July, and look forward to many more anniversaries to come. The GoYLC study aims to help other young lung cancer patients reach important milestones in life, too.

Much love. Live in the moment.

EmBen

Keeping Up with EmBen

Emily on KardashiansEmily made a surprise cameo appearance in this week’s episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.  In the episode titled “Move It or Lose It”, Emily radiantly displays her lung cancer wrist bands at a celebrity golf tournament benefiting the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.

For other videos of Emily, check out the EmBenKicksCancer You Tube channel HERE.

New Decade, New Role, New Study

Most people dread their 30th birthday.  It represents an end to the youth, adventure, and possibilities of their 20s, and thrusts them into a new chapter of adulthood, maturity, and responsibility.  Yet as I [Emily] recently turned 30 years old, I felt nothing but joy and gratitude.  When you’re faced with a Stage IV cancer diagnosis and your own mortality at age 28, each following birthday is simply icing on the proverbial (30th birthday) cake.

Emily Turns 30

Turning 30? Nothing but smiles!

I have so much to be grateful for in reaching this milestone birthday: an oncologist and surgeon who were willing to help me fight for a cure, a team of family and friends and doctors who rallied around me, and a seductive affair with NED for more than a year now.

As I celebrate being 30, I cannot help but think of all the others battling this disease.  Throughout this process, I have met countless other young lung cancer patients.  Like me, they all check the boxes of someone you’d never think was at risk– young, healthy, athletic, non-smokers.   And yet here we all are with a potentially terminal disease before the age of 40.  Unfortunately, we are not anomalies, but rather represent an alarming trend.  Oncologists and researchers are bewildered by this group of diagnoses.  What is the root cause?  Is it genetic?  Is it due to radon?  Estrogen / testosterone?  Pollution?  Birth Control? Pesticides?

Perhaps I am simply acting 30, but I feel a sense of responsibility toward this group.  I want to find answers.  Not only to reduce my own risk of lung cancer recurrence, but to prevent the next 20-something from being stripped of his or her own youth, adventure, and possibility too soon.

This is why I’m going to participate in the upcoming Genomics of Young Lung study with the ALCMI (Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute).  They will be collecting tissue and blood samples from patients diagnosed under age 40 in order to study them and provide new insight into lung cancer biology.  The hope is that we may find common, genome-defined subtypes of lung cancer that may be inherited, and thus develop targeted treatments for individuals carrying these subtypes.

It's official!I am passionate about this ground-breaking study which will focus on young lung cancer, and I am beyond proud to announce that I have officially joined the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation team as the Spokesperson for this Genomics of Young Lung study.  I am so grateful for this opportunity from Bonnie, and will try valiantly to follow her superb example of what it is to be an ass-kicking lung cancer advocate.  So please prepare yourself for more posts and videos of me sharing my story at various lung cancer conferences around the world, and helping to raise awareness for BJALCF’s incredible efforts in the lung cancer field!

Much Love.  Live in the Moment.
Emily

Info on the Genomics of Young Lung Study: The Genomics of Young Lung (GYL) study is a revolutionary investigation into lung cancer. The GYL study looks to unlock two critical pieces of information: 1) how to properly treat young lung cancer patients and 2) how to determine who is genetically at risk in order to provide early screenings. Most importantly, the GYL study will move the lung cancer community another step closer to ensuring that other patients like Emily continue to reach the significant milestones in life.

To donate to the Genomics of Young Lung Study, click [HERE].  

If you were diagnosed under the age of 40 and would like more information on participating in Genomics of Young Lung, please email info@lungcancerfoundation.org.

Brian Kissinger, diagnosed Stage IV at age 33.  Currently on targeted treatment and doing well.

Brian Kissinger, diagnosed Stage IV at age 33. Currently on targeted treatment and doing well.

Eliabeth Hicks has two small children, and was diagnosed at age 28, Stage IIIa.  Like Emily, her treatment included surgery (lobectomy), radiation, and chemotherapy.

Elizabeth Hicks has two small children, and was diagnosed at age 28, Stage IIIa. Like Emily, her treatment included surgery (lobectomy), radiation, and chemotherapy.

Erik Hall was diagnosed at age 30 and his treatment course was much like Emily's, including surgery (lobectomy), radiation and chemotherapy.

Erik Hale was diagnosed at age 30 and his treatment course was much like Emily’s, including surgery (lobectomy), radiation, and chemotherapy.

Jill Costello - the namesake of Bonnie's sister foundation, Jill's Legacy - was only 21 years old and the rowing captain at Berkeley when she was diagnosed. Sadly, Jill lost her life at the age of 22, but her legacy to "Beat lung cancer - BIG TIME" lives on.

Jill Costello – the namesake of Bonnie’s sister foundation, Jill’s Legacy – was only 21 years old and the rowing captain at Berkeley when she was diagnosed. Sadly, Jill lost her life at the age of 22, but her legacy to “Beat lung cancer – BIG TIME” lives on.

Mark Costello (no relation to Jill) was diagnosed Stage IV at age 33. He has undergone chemotherapy and targeted treatment, and here he is with his family on vacation just 4 months after his thoracotomy surgery.

Mark Costello (no relation to Jill) was diagnosed Stage IV at age 33. He has undergone chemotherapy and targeted treatment, and here he is with his family on vacation just 4 months after his thoracotomy surgery.

Tori Tomalia was raising 3 young kids when diagnosed at age 37 with Stage IV. She is on targeted treatment and doing well.

 

Emily’s lung cancer “twin” Natalie DiMarco was given a similar diagnosis to EmBen’s when she was 32, just days after her daughter’s 1st birthday. She and her family are big BJALCF supporters, like here at the annual 5k in San Francisco.

Taylor Bell Duck was diagnosed Stage I at the age of 21. She underwent surgery and has been NED for 6 years now.

Taylor Bell Duck was diagnosed Stage I at the age of 21. She underwent surgery and has been NED for 6 years now.

Emily, Voice of the Patient

Emily was called upon by Bonnie J. Addario of the Lung Cancer Foundation to present the patient perspective at the AACR – IASLC International Lung Cancer Conference. Emily told the story of her nationwide search for a curative treatment and of her fight and determination to survive.  At the end of her speech, she addressed the room – filled with the world’s leading lung cancer specialists and researchers – and called upon them to treat their patients individually and aggressively in their fight to survive.

Prior to Emily’s talk, as word spread through the lung cancer patient community that she would be a conference panelist, there was an exciting buzz.  Patients often feel unheard by their doctors, trapped by the standard of care, and are left feeling hopeless.  Emily’s speech gave patients a voice.

The audience’s response at the conference was overwhelmingly positive.  Researchers told Emily that she helped remind them of why they spend so many countless hours in the lab.  Oncologists were equally enthusiastic, and she hopes that her message struck a chord and influences future treatment patterns. Other participants requested that Emily speak at upcoming events, including the esteemed IASLC World Conference (where attendance is expected to be 9,000)!

Below is the video of Emily’s speech.  I urge you to take the time to watch it.  I am so proud of her as she has taken on this next challenge in lung cancer patient advocacy. After an exhaustive personal battle to survive, she is courageously and energetically taking on the universal war against lung cancer.  We will need our army with us for this new challenge, and we thank you in advance for your continued support.  Are you with us?

Much love. Live in the moment.

Miles (and Emily)

Open Letter to Dr. Oz

The Dr. Oz Show is a daytime talk show hosted by surgeon Mehmet Oz where a variety of different health-related topics are discussed.  On November 29th an episode aired regarding four symptoms that people frequently worry about.  One of the top symptoms was a persistent cough, and Dr Oz assured his young female guest that because she had never smoked he did not think she should worry about having lung cancer.  Does this story ring any bells?  Raise any red flags??  A persistent, dry cough was Emily’s ONLY external symptom of lung cancer.

Emily has written Dr Oz in hopes that he will correct this misinformation that was shared with millions of viewers.  She is just one voice though.  Can you spare one minute to contact Dr Oz and the show’s producers?  We want to request that they dedicate a show to the very real and developing epidemic of lung cancer among young, non-smoking adults.  Do you know someone who works at the Dr Oz show, or perhaps the friend of a friend?  Please make sure that this letter from Emily gets to their inbox!

*************************************************************************

Emily & Miles Taylor

Dear Dr. Oz –

My name is Emily Bennett Taylor and at age 28 I was diagnosed with Stage IV non-smokers lung cancer.  Bonnie J. Addario of the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation mentioned me in a letter to you in December, regarding your segment on Friday, November 29th titled “The Alarmist Guide To The Symptoms You Worry About Most.”

The only symptom I had was a nagging, persistent, dry cough.

If I had watched your show a year and a half ago, before my diagnosis, I would probably be dead.

VballIn June 2012 I was 28 years old and about to celebrate my 2nd wedding anniversary with my husband. We met in college where we were both athletes, and continued to lead a healthy, active lifestyle together after graduation.  I have never smoked a cigarette in my life.  So you can imagine my surprise when I got a chest x-ray for a persistent cough that I thought must be allergies, and my pulmonologist immediately ordered a CT scan after seeing the results.  And then a biopsy.  And then told me I had advanced lung cancer.

I went through eight rounds of chemotherapy, and was lucky enough (and I do mean lucky) to have surgery become an option.  But it wasn’t easy – on February 8th, 2013, my entire right lung was removed in an Extrapleural Pneumonectomy procedure.  A month later, I began 28 rounds of high-dose radiation to my entire right lung cavity.  I battled radiation nausea and fatigue for months, could barely walk, and now go to physical therapy to try to regain the strength that withered away during those months. Today, eleven months after surgery, I am extremely grateful – and again, lucky – to be considered NED (No Evidence of Disease), but not one single day has been easy.5k12w-3301

So you see, Dr. Oz, my life and my struggle are evidence that the face of lung cancer is not what society thinks it is.  We need to raise public awareness.  Sadly, lung cancer is essentially a death sentence at a mere 15% survival rate; a large reason for this is the lack of early detection due to misconceptions about who is at risk.  Misconceptions that were, unfortunately, propagated by your show.

The fact is that lung cancer is the #1 cancer killer in America.  It kills more than breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined.  Yet, due to the stigma, it is the ignored cancer and is drastically under-funded and consequently under-researched.  More and more non-smokers like me are being diagnosed, and we need to know why and how to treat these people.

BJALCF13-6742

For most new diagnoses, as I’ve learned the hard way, it has nothing to do with cigarette smoking. That is why the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation is working to find a genetic marker in lung cancer, much like the BRAC gene for breast cancer.  Personally, my new dedication in life is to raise lung cancer awareness and funds so that we can find a genetic component and attack the root cause of lung cancer.

As a doctor, I know your main objective is to help people and save lives. That is why I would love the opportunity to help you correct the dangerous misinformation that was provided in your November 29th show.  Together we can save a life like mine.  I’ve included my website so that you can read up on my story; it was just voted into the “Top 9 Lung Cancer Blogs of 2013” on Healthline.com.  I have been able to connect with and help so many fellow patients, but I would love to continue that work through your show.

Much love.  Live in the moment.

Emily “EmBen” Taylor
embenkickscancer.wordpress.com

Year In Review

What a difference a year can make!  Thank you to all of our family, friends, and supporters who have been a part of this journey. To those who come to this site in need of inspiration, this look back at 2013 is for you.  

Much love.  Live in the Moment.   

Emily & Miles

TREATMENT

January 2013

Six months post-diagnosis, Emily completed seven rounds of chemotherapy.  The triple-drug cocktail of Carboplatin, Alimta, and Avastin was toxic but effective, making Emily eligible for surgery.  Miles’ employer, The Garland Company, generously donated to help fund the Young Lung Study, and produced this heartfelt and uplifting video of Emily’s path to surgery.

February 2013

Emily and Miles temporarily relocated to New York City for an innovative, post-chemo treatment of Stage IV Adenocarcinoma at Mt. Sinai Hospital.  On February 8th, Emily successfully underwent an extra-pleural pneumonectomy, removing her entire right lung, pleura, seven nodes, half of her diaphragm, and the pericardial sac surrounding her heart. Two days post-op, Emily was caught dancing in the halls of the hospital.

Chief of Thoracic Surgery, Dr. Raja Flores, shared the great news with Emily – he saw no evidence of disease following her procedure.  She was NED!  Emily told Miles it was the happiest day of her life.

NED with Miles

Emily with Dr. Flores

March – April 2013

After three weeks of recovery, Emily embarked on the final stage of treatment: 28 rounds of high-dose radiation to the empty lung cavity.  It proved to be the most arduous part of the battle, but necessary to knock out any microscopic cancer cells and prevent recurrence.

Victory

MOVING FORWARD

September 2013

Six months and two NED scans later, Emily and Miles confidently moved forward in life with the purchase of their first home – a house with plenty of rooms and a large yard for a big family.

Driving to First House

Driving into the neighborhood on move-in day.

Miles carries Emily over the threshold, a dream come true.

Miles carries Emily over the threshold, a dream come true.

PAYING IT FORWARD

While Emily continued to work diligently at her recovery and continued health – sleep, physical therapy, aerobic and breathing exercises, and an array of integrative therapies – she also made an important, life-altering career shift to undertake an active role in lung cancer advocacy.

First SpeechFirst Speech

Emily sought donations to produce and distribute the most comprehensive patient handbook ever published for newly diagnosed lung cancer patients (free download HERE)

First Television Appearance

Next up was a polished and poignant appearance on the nationally televised Steve Harvey Talk Show to promote the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, awareness of the disease, and to help put a new face on lung cancer and replace the current stigma.

Steve Harvey

First Interview in National Magazine

Emily was highlighted in this article published in The Atlantic in November, ““Why Do Healthy Non-Smokers Get Lung Cancer?”

Speech 1First Performance as a Couple

Emily and Miles took to the stage at the Lung Cancer Foundation’s annual Gala to promote a new study designed to identify a genetic link in lung cancer.  Their heartrending story raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the cause.

The couple was also featured in this 2013 Gala video highlighting patient success stories.

LOOKING AHEAD

Emily will start the New Year off with a bang when she joins Bonnie Addario as a program participant at an International Conference, “Molecular Origins of Lung Cancer” in San Diego.  Stay tuned, and Happy New Year! 😀

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.