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.

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!  

Team EmBen Wants YOU!!

Join Team EmBen

Mark your calendars for Sunday, September 29th – Team EmBen is coming back in full force and looking for new members for this year’s Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (BJALCF) “Your Next Step is the Cure” 5K event!!  Last year the team raised $10K and 70+ friends and family descended on San Francisco with nothing less than 732.5% team spirit.  The team is reuniting behind its namesake and inspirational leader, and looking to up its game this year.

Do you want in?  Yes?  Yes!  Great answer.  Here is the scoop:

Who:
You!

What:
“Your Next Step is the Cure” 5K Run/Walk

When:
Sunday, September 29th, 11 AM

Where:
Lake Merced, 1 Harding Road, San Francisco, or wherever you may be located around the world [You do not have to be in San Francisco to be a part of Team EmBen!]

Why:
To raise money and awareness for lung cancer research and education, to share stories and support with other lung cancer patients, survivors, and their families and communities, and because it’s fun, just plain old fun.

Next StepsCLICK HERE TO JOIN TEAM EMBEN!!  If you are able to make it to the 5K in San Francisco, please click on the link at the upper right side of the page that says “Join Our Team” to register for the event as a runner/walker for Team EmBen.  If you are unable to make it to San Francisco but would still like to be a part of the team and lend your support from afar, please click on the button on the right side of the page that says “Give Now”.  Your contribution will be counted towards the Team EmBen fundraising total.

Emily has been working hard on rebuilding her strength and lung capacity so she will be able to complete the entire 5K with the rest of the team.  She is excited to visit with everyone from last year, and looking forward to seeing lots of new faces in the crowd as well.  Won’t you come to Lake Merced on September 29th and help make her day? 🙂

In other awesome news, these have been popping up around San Francisco (!!!):

EmBen Bus Stop                      Marissa at EmBen Bus Stop

This advertising campaign was recently launched to help promote the 5K event as well as some of the other great initiatives that the BJALCF spearheads to support lung cancer patients and their families.  Who better to be the inspirational face of a lung cancer survivor than dear Emily?  Keep an eye out for her cute mug gracing bus stops around The Bay!  If you spot one, take a photo with it and share the pic with the rest of Team EmBen using #EmBenKicksCancer!

Simply the Best

Last weekend, Emily and I [Miles] drove to San Francisco to attend the 7th Annual Simply the Best Gala.  Each year, the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation puts on this amazing, black-tie event to raise funds for lung cancer research.  Bonnie was generous enough to invite Emily and me as guests and to waive the $500 per person tickets (yeah, this party is legit).

Held in the renowned Fairmont Hotel Ballroom, the décor was astonishing.  Massive chandeliers hung from the ceiling.  Dinner tables draped in fancy linens beckoned with ornate centerpieces.  A local choir performed center stage to greet arriving guests.  It felt like we were crashing a royal party.  Oh, and did I mention the open bar?

The event was spectacular.  Unbelievable items – diamond earrings, paintings, Costa Rica trips – were auctioned off with all proceeds going to lung cancer research (by the way, how cool are actual auctioneers?).  At one point, Emily was called up on stage to draw the winning raffle ticket . . . and, I must say, she pulls off a helluva Vanna White impersonation.  Near the end of the festivities, Bonnie called for guests to “help make a difference” by donating to beat this awful disease.  Although lung cancer had never directly impacted most of them, in less than ten minutes, they had contributed more than $80,000.  It was exhilarating to know that while we fight in the present, there may be a cure in the future due to their generosity.

I cannot stress enough how uplifting the night was for Emily.  She met and spoke with so many survivors.  She learned new alternative therapies from Natalie DiMarco, who is currently undergoing radiation on the final remaining tumor in her lung, after defeating numerous other tumors and removing all cancer from her pleural lining.  Bill Kipp, who knocked cancer out of his diaphragm and is currently shrinking the tumor in his lung, shared his story and inspired Emily in her own fight.  Emily shared supplement recommendations with Brian Kissinger, an effusive three-year survivor and young father who has been stable for the past several years.  Jackie Archer, a seven-year survivor, held Emily’s hand and told her, “You will beat this.”

The event inspired and fueled Emily.  She radiated life on the walk back to our hotel room, and we celebrated with a jig down the hallway.  I don’t think either of us really knew why we were so happy.  Later that night, as she slept, I realized . . .

Sometimes the hardest part about cancer is not its toll on the patient’s body, but rather on the mind.  It can be mentally crippling.  The concept of defeating cancer can be daunting and overwhelming.  Emily has a remarkable ability to simplify the fight to a more mentally digestible day-to-day battle.  Each night before she goes to bed, she emphatically tells me, “I beat cancer today, and I will beat it tomorrow.”  Recently, as the chemotherapy side effects have increased, she has gained motivation to fight back by refusing to let cancer strip one single moment of her life.  Yet, despite Emily’s incredible willpower, and her constant proclamation that she is her own statistic, the challenge of beating lung cancer can seem like a never-ending uphill climb in the dark.  The Gala, and our encounters with actual survivors, provided a light of hope that illuminated the top of that climb.  We may have a way to go, but there is an end in sight.  We no longer just have hope.  We have a new-found confidence.

Thank you to Bonnie and her organization.  We are ever so grateful.

Love to all.  Live in the moment,

Miles and Emily

BJALCF 5K Top 10 List

This past weekend Team EmBen descended on San Francisco for the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (BJALCF) “Your Next Step is the Cure” 5K event.  There were so many incredible moments that it is hard to hard to formulate a description that does this fun / inspiring / uplifting / motivational / spirited event justice.  I’ve enlisted the help of ‘Best Buddy’ Josh Zazulia though and together we’ve formulated a Top 10 list..

#10 – Team EmBen and Their Fundraising Efforts for the BJALCF: In the week leading up to the event, Team EmBen swelled from 32 members up to 71 members on race day, each person dressed to the nines in hot pink and green.  This included a large contingency of friends and family from Southern California who made the trek up to San Francisco.  Altogether, Team EmBen raised almost $10,000 for the BJALCF, money that will go directly towards developing more effective treatments and finding a cure for lung cancer.  Fundraising MVP goes to Stephanie Hammond who brought in $1,600 in donations.  Also, a great big thank you goes out to Emily’s mom, Shelley, who couldn’t be at the race in person, but made sure that the entire group had spirited ‘Team EmBen’ arm bands to wear.

#9 – Taylor Family, Champion Runners: Much has been said about Miles and Emily’s athletic abilities to date, but let’s not forget about the rest of Team Taylor.  Miles’ sister, Emily (EmTay), was the 3rd fastest female runner in the entire event.  Yes, you read that correctly, not just the third fastest in her age group, but out of ALL the ladies.  Mom (Michele) and Dad (Rich) Taylor also had exceptional race performances on Sunday.  Michele took 3rd in the ‘Master’ category for ladies that are just a smidge over 40 years young, and Rich took 1st in the ‘Grand Master’ category for men that are just a smidge over 60 years young.

#8 – The Human Tunnel:  While the first person who originally envisioned (and enacted) the human tunnel is unknown, he/she was clearly brilliant.  The human tunnel saw a lot of action during our college years – what better way to exit the basketball/volleyball court after a great game attended by throngs of cheering fans?  Well the BJALCF 5K course was equally as deserving of this awesome formation.  A few short tunnels spontaneously appeared along the route in front of runners who may have been in need of a little extra pick me up.  The best tunnel by far came together at the finish line though just as Emily was rounding the final corner.  Emily was grinning ear to ear as she ran under dozens of outreached hands going crazy and cheering as if she had just won the New York Marathon.

#7 – Team EmBen Flag Bearer:  Nate Folk finished the race in 34 minutes, a very respectable time for a Browns fan.  There’s more to the story though – Nate carried the “Team EmBen” sign while running the ENTIRE 3.1 miles.  Despite gusty winds and sweaty hands, Nate crossed the finish line proudly holding the sign up high.  Nate’s wife, Melanie, also ran the entire race carrying the bag of extra Team EmBen wrist bands in the event that someone should need an extra piece of flare mid-route. No one should ever doubt the Folk’s commitment to Team EmBen. Ever.

#6 – Pre-race Meet Up:  In true Emily/Miles form, the pre-race get together for Team EmBen was a sports bar near the Golden Gate Park that had ~137 TVs broadcasting every single Sunday NFL football game.  While it was weird not seeing Miles and Emily in their usual Sunday Steelers attire, they were perhaps even cuter (and less polarizing) in their matching “Team Taylor” tee shirts.  While Emily and Miles played it safe and opted for a healthier lunch option, many of their fellow teammates enjoyed some greasy bar food and Indian cuisine for pre-race fuel.  Unfortunately, one of these friends wound up parting with his lunch mid race…4 times over.  He still finished in the top 15 though.  No pain, no gain.

#5 – Putting Awesome Names and Faces Together:  Over the past weeks and months Bonnie, Danielle, and the BJALCF team, Darby Anderson and the Jill’s Legacy team, and Kelcey Harrison of the Great Lung Run and Jill’s Legacy have provided Emily with invaluable support and information on how to navigate the unknown waters that lie ahead.  Most of the communication and interaction has been virtual thus far though.  Sunday was an opportunity to connect in person and put a warm body together with a name. Everyone was just as friendly, vibrant, and compelling in person as they had been over phone/email.  Kelcey is still in the midst of the Great Lung Run (she just reached the halfway point and is heading across Kansas) but we were so lucky to meet her sweet and wonderful mom, Gretchen, instead.

#4 – Spirit of Hope Award:  Prior to the start of the race, Bonnie J Addario, lung cancer survivor and founder of the BJALCF, welcomed the hundreds of participants gathered in Golden Gate Park.  During her address, Bonnie recognized fellow lung cancer survivors, Brian Kissinger and our very own Emily (!!!), with the Spirit of Hope Award.  This award is named for Jill Costello who passed away from lung cancer in 2010 and is given to someone that embodies Jill’s spirit of generosity, motivation, and the ability to inspire those around her.  Jill was an incredibly strong, passionate, and inspiring young woman and the foundation thought Emily deserved to be recognized for having those same qualities.  Emily accepted the award with grace and humility and there wasn’t a dry eye in the park.

#3 – Spirit of Hope Trophy:  Part of Emily’s recognition for the Spirit of Hope Award was a beautiful engraved trophy.  Emily accepted the momento from Bonnie and that was the last time anyone else got to touch the award.  Emily carried that sucker through the entire 3.1 mile course despite multiple offers from friends and family to hold it while she ran.  She even persevered through a pesky forearm cramp to carry it across the finish line.  The award may or may not have spent last night resting under Emily’s pillow…

#2 – Miles’ Love for Emily:  Miles has been a pillar of strength for Emily through this challenge that life has thrown their way.  He used to crumble at the mere thought of a needle, but no longer.  He has been the rock by her side during chemotherapy infusions, and late night bouts of nausea, during fertility treatments, and meetings with surgeons.  Yesterday, Emily got choked up while accepting her award for being so inspirational, and Miles’ eyes welled up with tears as she walked on stage to receive the award.  Emily was so clearly touched by all of the love and support.  Miles was so clearly infatuated with the strength and beauty of his wife.

#1 – Coming Together for an Incredible Cause:  Sunday’s event brought all kinds of people together, united by a common bond – to raise awareness and ultimately find a cure for lung cancer.  It was a beautiful day made up of love, hope, support, and determination to MAKE IT HAPPEN.  You can’t really ask for much more than that 🙂

For more photos please check the website of the official event photographer James Hall.  He is posting the photos in small batches and everything should be available by Saturday or Sunday.

T-Minus 6 Days

Get excited folks – we are now less than one week away from the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (BJALCF) “Your Next Step is the Cure” 5K walk/run in San Francisco!!  Team EmBen has been growing over the past few weeks and is currently up to 56 members.  Don’t worry though; there is still plenty of room on this cancer-kicking, fun-loving, Emily-supporting team for YOU to join in!  Do you know other folks who live in the Bay Area?  Please invite them to join Team EmBen as well.  It is going to be a great day for friends, family, and awesome strangers to band together to help beat lung cancer, big time 🙂

Emily will be participating in the 5K this Sunday.  This is your chance to sign up as a member of Team EmBen and help support her fight against lung cancer – CLICK HERE now!!

Emily and her mom, Shelley, making “Team EmBen” arm bands for the big event this weekend. Please take note of all of Emily’s water bottles pulling double duty in the craft shop – so helpful in so many ways!

Pounding Pavement, Pounding Cancer

Kelcey Harrison is dedicating Wednesday, September 5th as EmBen Kicks Cancer Day in the Great Lung Run!!  Now who is Kelcey Harrison you might ask, and what is the Great Lung Run?  To do the explanation justice we have to go back to June of 2009 where the story starts with an incredible young woman named Jill.

Jill Costello was a vibrant 21 year old college student, non-smoker, and coxswain for UC Berkeley’s NCAA Championship rowing team.  In June of 2009, she was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer.  Jill quickly rose to the challenge and set out to raise both money and awareness for this #1 most deadly form of cancer.  While Jill fought a tenacious battle against lung cancer, she passed away in June 2010.  Even though Jill was not able to beat lung cancer for herself, her spirit and commitment to the cause lives on in an organization aptly named Jill’s Legacy.

Jill’s Legacy was started by a group of young professionals including many of Jill’s close friends and family.  This is an entirely volunteer run organization dedicated to mobilizing young people to erase the stigma of lung cancer and raise funds for research.

Kelcey Harrison is one of these highly mobilized young people, and also a dear childhood friend of Jill’s.  On June 30th, 2012 she set out on a run from Time Square in New York City; Kelcey’s final destination – San Francisco!  This is the Great Lung Run.  Kelcey is running 30+ miles a day across the entire United States to raise money and awareness and to ultimately to “beat lung cancer, big time”, as Jill always said.

Bonnie Addario and Jill Costello

Jill’s Legacy is also a sub-entity of the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (BJALCF).  The BJALCF has been involved and incredibly helpful in Emily’s cause and word of her fight made its way to Kelcey.  As a result, Kelcey is dedicating Wednesday, September 5th of the Great Lung Run to Emily kicking cancer.  This is also the day that Emily has her third chemotherapy treatment.  While Emily is pounding cancer at City of Hope, Kelcey will be pounding the pavement to help her kick cancer.

For more information on the Great Lung Run, check out Kelcey’s website.  Or even better, get involved and help support Kelcey on the Great Lung Run!  You can either host her as she runs through your town, or “sponsor” her for a night by booking a hotel room along route so she has a warm place to stay and rest up.  Click here to check out the list of cities and towns that Kelcey is running through.  Do it for Kelcey.  Do it for Jill.  Do it for Emily.

For more information on the organization Jill’s Legacy, check out the Jill’s Legacy website.

To read more about Jill Costello’s incredible life and her courageous fight against lung cancer, check out this Sports Illustrated article.

Your Next Step is the Cure

Your Next Step is the Cure - Team EmBenOn Sunday, September 16th the fourth annual “Your Next Step is the Cure” 5K walk/run will be held in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, CA.  The event is put on by the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (BJALCF).  The is the same incredible organization that put Emily in touch with Dr. David Gandera, head of Thoracic Oncology at UC Davis and principal investigator for a clinical trial that uses mice to develop personalized cancer therapies.  Emily and Miles are participating in the 5K run/walk and would like to invite their friends, family, and other supporters to join them.  Click here to register for the event and join Team EmBen, the more the merrier!

This is your opportunity to use your lungs to beat lung cancer.  Do it!

Gala 2011 from LungCancerFoundation.Org on Vimeo.