Happy Birthday Miles!

Today is Miles’ birthday and Emily has chosen to celebrate her husband’s big day by reaffirming her commitment to another true love.  Scandalous?  Nope!  That other true love is good old NED (who we have come to know and love thanks to Emily) and Miles could not be happier.

This birthday present is the result of Emily’s most recent appointment at City of Hope for routine follow up scans.  Emily underwent a brain MRI (done every six months) as well as an “eyes-to-thighs” PET/CT (done once a year).  The results of both scans: ALL CLEAR!!!

Emily, Miles, and friends gathered at Bru Haus (as has become the tradition) to toast two wonderful occasions.  Happy, happy birthday to you Miles – we look forward to celebrating many more birthdays with you and your cancer-free, NED-loving wife 🙂

Miles' 30th

Miles' 30th (2)

Em's Clear Scan

One Year NEDiversary!!

Happy one year NEDiversary!!!  Unlike most celebrity marriages, Emily and NED are still going strong after one year…and word on the street is that Emily thinks NED might be the one for life..

This past Monday, February 10th, Emily had a CT scan and by early afternoon she received a call from City of Hope.  The news was positive – her scans were cancer free!  Emily took the news in stride, expecting nothing else.  Personally, I don’t think my innards will ever recover from the anxiety I am putting them through.

Later that night, we were able to have a quick celebration at Bru Haus, the same bar we had the Chemo Kick Off party at more than a year and a half ago.  It was an amazing opportunity to reflect on the journey to date.

I feel so grateful.  There is nothing like the peace of holding Emily at night after receiving positive scan results.  Thank you for all the prayers and thoughts.

Much love.  Live in the moment.

Miles & Emily

NEDiversary

Miles and Emily at City of Hope after receiving her latest, greatest CT scan results. If Miles’ shirt looks familiar that’s because you might have seen it in other City of Hope photos….he has worn it to EVERY appointment they have had there since Emily’s diagnosis 🙂

Hope on the Beach 1

Emily and Miles spent a few days in Cancun in January to rest and relax. They wrote these messages in the sand on a rainy day, and are so happy that a sea of NED is all they can see!

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G News

After six months of treatment and seven rounds of chemotherapy, Emily had a PET scan on December 31st.  A PET scan examines the entire body (eyes to thighs) for “activity” uptake on a scale of 1-10, and thereby highlights the location of cancer in the body.  Emily’s last PET scan was in July prior to any treatment.  The test revealed a lung that “lit up like a Christmas tree.”  Emily’s tumor measured in at an 11 (one of the few times extra credit is not a good thing).  Meanwhile, her lymph nodes and pleural lining both had levels of 7.5.

After Emily’s most recent meeting with her oncologist, a new PET scan was ordered in order to examine the possibility of surgery.  The test would need to show cancer only in the tumor though, with no signs of activity in the pleural lining or lymph nodes.

On January 2nd, during Emily’s daily four mile walk (which she has been doing in preparation for potential surgery) we received a phone call from City of Hope.  The results were in – Emily’s pleural lining and lymph nodes both had activity levels of 0.  The tumor now had a level of just 1.9.

PET 7.9.12                PET 12.31.12

What this means:

First, Emily is a complete badass.  She is a real life superhero.  Second, the cancer in the pleural lining and the lymph nodes has been wiped out.  Surgery is now a possibility.  Third, the tumor shows barely any activity; cancer levels are generally above 3.6.  There is great reason to believe that the tumor inside Emily is merely a dead mass of scar tissue.  However, we are trying (although difficult) to maintain a conservative approach and assume there is more cancer to defeat.

In any case, determining the correct next step in treatment is crucial.  Emily will meet with City of Hope’s lung surgeon – Dr. Kim – this Thursday (January 10th).  Following the meeting, Emily’s case will be presented to the thoracic tumor board, made up of City of Hope’s lung oncologists, radiologists, and surgeons.  She is very excited about the interdisciplinary approach, and is anxious to hear the game plan.  Regardless of the next step (surgery, radiation, etc.), and due to the fact that this type of cancer is particularly aggressive and has a high rate of recurrence, Emily will most likely continue to receive maintenance chemo every third week for the foreseeable future.  Although not ideal, Emily fails to see it as a restriction, but as a means to freedom from this cancer.

Emily took time to celebrate this wonderful news with friends and family at Bruhaus – the same location where we held her chemo kick-off party back in July.  It was an amazing night, and we could not believe how much she has been able to accomplish in these past six months.

PET Celebration

Emily and I feel we have nearly climbed to the top of the mountain.  Although there is more to go and there will be a long climb back down, we feel extremely fortunate to be so close to the peak.

Thank you all for your prayers and support.  We truly believe you all are making a difference and have been an integral part in Emily’s battle.

Much love.  Live in the moment.

Emily & Miles

Emotional Week

Update from Miles about the emotional week that he and Emily had…

Thursday, December 13th
After two more rounds of chemotherapy, Emily went in for her third CT scan.  The test is painless and rather quick.

Late that night, we received a phone call from City of Hope with the CT scan results.  The tumor had remained stable.  No areas of metastasis.  Slight shrinkage in the lymph nodes.  After several test results showing tumor reduction, Emily and I were thankful for the lack of growth, but slightly disappointed. There is a sense of uneasiness in that it is unknown how long the tumor will remain stable – Years? Months? Not at all?

Wanting to determine the correct plan of action, we emailed Dr. Raja Flores (Surgeon, Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City) requesting a phone consultation at his earliest convenience.  In addition, we decide to travel to City of Hope the following day in an effort to move the appointment with our oncologist, Dr. Karen Reckamp, from the upcoming Wednesday to Monday.

Friday, December 14th
Amazingly, despite not even being his patient, Dr. Raja Flores responds in the morning and sets up a phone conversation for the early afternoon.  Dr. Flores is ranked in the top 1% of his field by US News and World Report and renowned for his ability to perform difficult surgeries.  But even more, he is compassionate and understanding of Emily’s uniqueness in terms of her youth and strength, and our determination to defy the odds and beat this disease.

While on our drive to City of Hope, we receive his phone call.   He recommends a PET scan to examine the full body for cancer.  He has been pleased by Emily’s response and does not want to perform surgery – especially a radical, invasive one (i.e. her entire lung, nodes, etc.) – unless and/or until it is the right time.  A PET will provide him with a clearer picture of Emily’s options.

At City of Hope, Emily easily changes her appointment to Monday (how great is their service?!)  Then we visit Medical Records to pick up her latest CT reports to send to Emily’s outside team of consulting oncologists and surgeons.  While walking out of the hospital, we read the report and quickly notice a glaring problem: “The tumor has no significant change in dimension and is 28 mm x 16 mm.”

But Emily’s tumor was 20 mm x 15 mm according to the previous scan.  Had Emily’s tumor grown 8 mm?  We sat there in the parking lot, desperately trying to remain calm and focused.  Being a Friday, there was no way we were going to leave and sleep on this for the weekend.  We quickly returned to Medical Records and requested the previous report.  As we expected, it stated the tumor was 20 mm x 15mm.  Frantically, we went to Radiology and requested an explanation.  Five minutes later, we were in the hallway speaking with the actual technician who reviewed Emily’s scan.  The technician explained that she measured the tumor in a different direction and counted the soft tissue.  However, when measured the same way as the previous report, the results were the same.  The tumor was stable.  We were flooded with relief and gratitude.

3rd CT Scan

Monday, December 17th 
Emily and I drive to City of Hope for our appointment.  We have one goal for the meeting: to get a full body PET scan scheduled.  During the drive, we practice our arguments for convincing our team of doctors to order the test.  We want the option of surgery and this is the first step.

We walk into the appointment and meet with Dr. Karen Reckamp.  She informs us that she is pleased with the latest results: The lining is still clear.  The lymph nodes have been reduced to normal size.  The tumor has remained stable and, given Emily’s great response to chemo thus far, might even consist largely of dormant tissue (no active cancer cells).  How do we tell if this is the case?  A PET scan.

Dr. Reckamp requests another round of chemotherapy and a PET scan for early January.  If the cancer has not spread at that point, City of Hope wants to explore the possibilities of either surgery or radiation for as early as late-January or February.

On the way home in the car, calling our families on speakerphone, I relay Dr. Reckamp’s statement from our meeting: “We are thinking outside of the box with you, Emily.  Our goal is to get rid of this so you can put it all behind you.”  One of the few times since her diagnosis, Emily broke down and cried.

Wednesday, December 19th
Emily’s 7th round of chemotherapy was scheduled for Wednesday, with a back-up date set for the day after Christmas if her platelet counts were below 75, as was the case the last two rounds.  But Emily came in strong with a count of 129, a fine showing that she attributes to the recent addition of shark liver oil and melatonin to her regimen.  And although it had been an emotional roller coaster of a week, Emily approached this chemo session with enthusiasm and in high spirits, feeling both motivated and inspired by the visits and conversations with her medical team.

7th Round of Chemo

For the first time, Emily’s therapy did not include the hard-hitting Carboplatin.  As a result, the session was dramatically shorter and the new chemo concoction is expected to be less harsh on her body.  Still, Emily understands that she must remain disciplined and steadfast in her approach in order to beat this.  She will continue to win each moment of each day, never once letting cancer have an opportunity.

Emily and I would like to wish all of you a Happy Holiday season.  For Christmas, there is only one gift I would like: my wife to be healthy and free of cancer.  And although it may be months before I can open that gift, I am just so excited and thankful that I can now see it under the tree.

Love to all.  Live in the Moment,

Emily and Miles

7th Round of Chemo - Thumbs Up!

A Welcome Reprieve

When last week’s chemotherapy session was canceled due to low platelet counts, Emily’s doctor recommended rest.  The timing could not have been better.  On Monday night, Emily and Miles packed up Ginny and headed to Sacramento for a Taylor family Thanksgiving and a getaway that promised lots of rest and pampering for Emily. Their holiday trip included a spectacular meal prepared by Aunt Suzanne, and picturesque walks with Ginny in the autumn leaves. By Friday, Emily felt rejuvenated enough to watch Miles in his alumni basketball game, and rallied to attend a few hours of Miles’ 10-year high school reunion. Emily, Miles, Rich, and Michele are now back in LA for today’s 6th round of chemotherapy feeling rested, restored, and counting their many blessings.

Emily’s AWESOME Great Lung Run Video

Those of you that have been following Emily’s story should also be familiar with Kelcey Harrison and the Great Lung Run.  Kelcey’s 3,500 mile cross country journey is nearing the finish line as she is currently (finally!) making her way up the Golden State to the Bay Area.  The Great Lung Run will officially come to an end on Saturday, December 1st as Kelcey runs into Crissy Field in San Francisco.

While Emily is battling lung cancer at City of Hope, she would like all of her friends and family to support Kelcey as she pounds the pavement to fight lung cancer on this last leg of her journey through central California.  Emily has created an awesome video to show you just how serious she is.  Have you ever seen those Old Spice commercials on TV?  Well it’s sort of like that, only 734,298 times better.

Click here to make a donation to Kelcey and the Great Lung Run!

Chemo Underway

This just in: Emily’s platelet count is up to 227,000 (which is higher than it’s been in over two months)!  Additionally, her white blood cell and hemoglobin counts are up.  Based on these numbers, she has been cleared for the chemo that was postponed from last Monday.

Emily is receiving chemotherapy right now, and lookin’ gooood while she is at it – MEOW! 🙂

Chemo Postponed

Yesterday we hit a small speed bump.  During her meeting with Dr. Reckamp, Emily was informed that her lab results showed increasing white blood cell count and red blood cell count.  However, it also revealed a low platelet count.  The number has dropped from 196,000 (last round) to 75,000.  Such a drop is not uncommon and is a consequence of the carboplatin chemo.  Due to the low count, Emily’s chemotherapy treatment was postponed until next Monday (10/29).  This week of rest will allow Emily’s body to recuperate and to increase her platelet count to an appropriate level for chemotherapy treatment.

Fortunately, the test result does not jeopardize her using the powerful hitting carboplatin in the fifth and sixth round.  Emily’s oncologist is highly encouraged and pleased with Emily’s response to the current treatment regimen, and wants to continue hitting the tumor with this successful concoction.  And to take advantage of the week break, Dr. Reckamp had Emily get a flu shot to protect her through this upcoming flu season.

Emily is excited to have an additional week of good health.  This was a needed “vacation.”  However, this delay does not prohibit Emily from continuing to knock back the tumor.  With focused meditation, additional supplements, rest, and plenty of water, we are confident that by next Monday her platelet count will be prepared for chemo round #5 and ready to give us a scan even more beautiful than the one shown below.

This is Emily’s scan from last Thursday (10/18).  The tumor is noticeably smaller than the previous scan.  Only 20mm x 15mm of mass to go!

Look At That Lung!

Exactly one week ago (8/31) we received the wonderful news that Emily’s tumor had dramatically shrunk after the first two rounds of chemotherapy.  Although Emily felt her breathing had improved and we’d hoped for good results, we never anticipated such a significant decrease.  The news brought much joy, relief, and renewed energy.

Over the weekend, we attended the wedding of our friends Danny and Karlen.  Both Danny and Karlen work with Emily at Western Asset.  In a demonstration of support, all members of the wedding party, including the bride, wore “Fight like a Girl” lung cancer bracelets.  It didn’t stop there though: the wait staff, photographers, and band members all wore matching bracelets as well.  Emily was overwhelmed by the gesture of support.  She recovered, though, and with both of us still thrilled by the good news, we were able to unwind and get after it on the dance floor (aka random, long appendages flying in all directions, lots and lots of sweating, etc).  All in all, it was a terrific weekend and a great lead in to the third round of chemotherapy.

On Wednesday (9/5), Emily had an appointment with her oncologist.  Dr. Reckamp was quite pleased with the results.  She even printed photos of the “before” and “after” CT scans of Emily’s lungs. A quick overview:

  • The tumor dimensions shrunk from 43mm x 35mm to 22mm x 19mm.  A large decrease is a great sign that the body is responding to the chemotherapy, especially the Alimta (the potential maintenance chemo)
  • The fluid in the lung dissipated.  There is still some cancer in the lining; however, it is minimal and Emily has her sights on it
  • The lymph nodes have all decreased by nearly the same percentage as the tumor

Dr. Reckamp ordered two more rounds of chemotherapy, after which Emily will have another CT scan done to track the progress.  The doctor attempted to reel in expectations for the next rounds, stating that any decrease in tumor size would be a success.  However, Emily smells blood.  For anyone who watched her play volleyball, Emily plays only one way: attack and kill.  You might as well call the tumor ‘Wilson’ because it’s about to get spiked.

Following the appointment, Emily rushed out of the office to ask the receptionist “Have you seen the photo of my beautiful lungs?!”  For the next few minutes, Emily, beaming from ear to ear, broke down the scans for the woman.  Emily’s enthusiasm and love of life just exuded naturally, and the lady could not help but smile.  It is no surprise that all of the receptionists already know her name, greeting Emily the second she walks into the hospital, and that the doctors and nurses all hug her when they enter the room.  In fact, just the other day as Emily entered the CT scan room, a nurse came running in and said “I saw your name on the chart and I wanted to come down and wish you the best of luck!”  As she hugged Emily, the woman looked at me and said, “She is just so adorable.  I have been praying for her every night.”  Emily’s spirit and determination is contagious.

The third round of chemotherapy went well.  During the injection, we watched episodes of Parks and Recreation and while the poisonous drugs were injected into her, Emily let out belly laughs one after another.  The third round has been a little tougher on her body though.  She has experienced increased nausea, but Emily just keeps saying, “If I feel like this imagine what it is doing to the tumor.”

Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers.  Each night we reflect on all the support she is receiving.   Emily is not fighting this tumor alone; rather she has the strength of hundreds attacking this little 22mm x 19mm mass.

Love to all.  Live in the moment.

Miles

Breaking News!!!

Emily had a CT scan yesterday to evaluate the effects of the first two rounds of chemotherapy.  The results according to City of Hope: PHENOMENAL!

Emily at work telling her team the great news

The tumor has been reduced by half, along with the lymph nodes.  The lung lining is greatly improved and there is no evidence that the cancer has spread anywhere else in the body.  Most fluid has been cleared from the lungs, which has contributed to Emily feeling stronger and breathing better.

Additionally, we learned this week that MIT identified the driver gene of the cancer, allowing for the possibility of genetic targeted treatments in the future.  For now, Emily has been cleared for two more rounds of chemotherapy.  Bring it on.

Thank you for all your kind thoughts and prayers.  Keep them coming – together we’re going to beat this.

Love to All.  Live in the Moment.

Miles