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.

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

Lung Day 2.0

Last February while in New York City just before the surgery to remove her lung, Emily was nervous about the effect it would have on her ability to do normal daily tasks.  To ease her mind, Miles came up with Lung Day.  Lung Day consisted of numerous challenges – dancing in Central Park, climbing a flight of stairs, and screaming “NED!” from atop of the Empire State Building. The idea was that each subsequent year they would have Lung Day so Emily could compare how she was doing, and be reminded of just how far she had come.

The original plan this year was to return to New York for a one-year follow up appointment with Dr. Flores and have Lung Day in the city; however, terrible winter weather on the East Coast put a halt to that.  Fortunately, Dr. Flores gave a glowing review of Emily’s latest scans and assured her that she needn’t make the trip all the way to NYC…but Miles wasn’t satisfied…

Last month, on the anniversary of her first Lung Day, Miles and EmTay surprised EmBen with breakfast in bed.  The startled yet excited EmBen was instructed to eat quickly as her first Lung Day challenge would start in 15 minutes.

Breakfast in Bed                      Lung Day Tasks

Challenge #1: One Mile Walk
Emily took a one mile stroll with the dogs around the neighborhood.  No breaks.  No rests.
Status: Complete

One Mile Walk          One Mile Walk with Dogs

Challenge #2: Blow Up Balloon
With one of Emily’s favorite new songs playing in the background, she expanded that one lung and blew up a balloon with surprising ease.  No dizziness.  No exhaustion.  She is now qualified to work the local circus.
Status: Complete

Challenge #3: Tour De France
Emily was given a yellow top and a bike helmet (aka Steelers football helmet). Channeling the Livestrong, cancer-beating Lance Armstrong, she rode the bike like a champion for 30 minutes.
Status: Complete

Tour De France

Challenge #4: Scream to the Heavens
After two exhausting workouts, Miles and EmTay did what any doctor would recommend – they sent Emily up a ladder.  Climbing onto the roof, Emily reached the ridge and screamed “I’m NED!”  This was a particular favorite for her as last year she would only scream “NED.” To be able to put a simple “I’m” in front of the word this time held much significance and was a source of pride and gratitude.
Status: Complete

Intermission: Some of Emily’s closest friends and supporters arrived at the house to partake in the second half of Lung Day and root Emily on as she continued to attack the challenges set forth.

Friends  Lung Day Intermission

Challenge #5: Lap Swim
Now that her full cheering squad had arrived, Emily was given the biggest challenge yet: swim one lap in the pool.  Under the guise of safety, Miles dressed Emily in ridiculous children’s swim gear he had purchased: arm floaties (unnecessary) as well as an inner tube (doubly unnecessary).  Fully outfitted, you would have thought Emily had had surgery to add rocks to her belly rather than having an organ removed.  Enjoy the laugh, and marvel at how far Emily has come!
Status: Complete

Challenge #6: Dance to the Music
Although her post-surgery dance moves typically involve a lot of arm flailing with minimal lower body action, Emily is not scared to bust a move.  As always, dancing brings the biggest smile to her face.
Status: Complete

Challenge #7:  Blow Out Candles
Surrounded by family and friends, Emily made a small speech about her happiness for all of the love surrounding her and Miles, and gratitude to be able to celebrate this day.  Then she exhaled like an angry Zeus and blew out every candle on the amazing Lung Day cake that Webmaster Annie had made.
Status: Complete

Blowing Out The  Candles          Lung Day Toast

Lung Day Cake

It was a wonderful, joyous day of celebration!  And most importantly, Emily successfully completed Lung Day after only one year post surgery.  She has rendered moot all of those concerns and worries of living a normal life.

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!

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! 😀

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