Farewell to New York

Raditation CompleteEmily joyfully updated her radiation progress on the Courtyard Marriott window to 100% complete!  She and Miles could not have asked for a more comfortable stay or a more accommodating staff.  And the only glitch, a false fire alarm that caused an evacuation and disabled the elevators on Easter weekend, let Emily know she is capable of climbing 10 flights of stairs.   Oh, and Miles’ personal best is 19.8 seconds by Emily’s stopwatch – that’s room to ice machine and back.  They remain the couple who can make a game out of everything.

ReclinerAlthough treatments have concluded, the radiation continues to work inside her and Emily will be resting a lot over the next few weeks.  Unfortunately, it will be without her leather throne, but it has found a new home.  After getting every last minute of use out of it, Miles and Emily delivered the recliner to Esperanza Center, a school for the developmentally disabled in Harlem, where Uncle Jim is the Director.

Emily was instructed to eat anything and everything possible during radiation to prevent rapid weight loss.  So despite severe nausea, she forced herself to eat and Aunt Grace worked to find new foods that Emily could tolerate.  After nearly three months of surgery and radiation, Emily stepped on the scale one final time.  The result – exactly the same weight as when she first came to NY!  But after a quick Google lookup, Emily revised that outcome.  “You have to take into account my missing lung,” she said.  “I’m actually up two pounds!”

Dinner and Desserts

The cousins also get credit as they took to baking desserts to help Emily with her weight, including John and Maire’s multiple lemon cheesecakes and caramel brownies, and Gren’s fig torte.

LaundryHave you ever wondered how much laundry two people who rarely leave their hotel room produce?  Well its enough to eventually break the washing machine.  Michele was not about to send the couple home with suitcases of dirty clothes, so Uncle Jim and Rich put their heads together and came up with a temporary solution using an old light switch they found in the basement.  Nice going, guys!

Dr. Flores

Dr. Flores gave Emily a clean bill of health at their final meeting on Monday.  Emily was able to view her latest scan and see all that was missing: no lung (kind of weird), no cancer (absolutely freakin’ awesome)!!!!

Emily has not only been fortunate to receive top notch medical services at Mt. Sinai, but also to have superior health insurance with Anthem Blue Cross.  All concerns have been handled promptly to provide her with uninterrupted medical treatment during her stay in NY.   Even though Emily no longer receives insurance through her employer, she has been able to continue her coverage privately.  A special shout-out to Michele’s employer, Buzz Wiesenfeld, who jumped in to make the initial premium payments so that Emily’s care would continue without disruption.

Celebration DinnerEmily and Miles missed cousin Deirdre and Carlos’ wedding last summer when chemo started, but they were able to catch up and celebrate at Madame Claude’s French restaurant on the eve of their departure. The farewell dinner was also a birthday celebration for Aunt Grace and Emily, both of whom are turning 29 next week.

The Taylors are en route back to the west coast now. They are traveling together to Phoenix and will then go their separate ways. Michele and Rich will fly north to Sacramento, while Emily and Miles continue west to Los Angeles.  California cannot wait to welcome you guys home! 🙂

Leaving NYHomeward Bound

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Call off the Search

Great news – Emily and Miles have secured a place to stay in New York while Emily undergoes surgery and radiation!  Many heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped spread the word, made recommendations, or put them in touch with potential leads.  Thanks to your efforts they found a place that meets all of their needs just in the nick of time – Emily and Miles board their flight to New York in two hours!

Travel safe you two 🙂

NY Bound

Kara Comes to Town!

This past weekend Emily’s bestie from Idaho (and newlywed!), Kara, came down for a visit and to help Emily prepare for the holiday party that she was co-hosting (more details on the party coming soon – stay tuned!).  It was a wonderful weekend full of super fun bonding time.  Kara also brought Emily the sweetest gift to help her stay comfortable during chemotherapy.  Kara found fabric that has “HOPE” and other positive words all over it and had it made into a pillow for Emily.  It is antimicrobial fabric that can be wiped down with a light bleach solution and it has an antibacterial pillow inside of it too.  Not only will it be comfy for Emily and remind her of dear Kara, but it is clean and sanitary too – win, win, win!

Kara Visits

Reunited, And It Feels So Good

This past weekend Emily and Miles ventured north to Idaho for the wedding of a dear friend.  They were able to drive through Emily’s hometown of Moscow, ID, see her old house, high school and church, and even her favorite fast food joint, Zip’s.  The best part of the weekend was reuniting with her high school besties who now live scattered across the U.S. – Kara (b-e-a-utiful bride!), Emily W, and Chelsea.  Two years ago these three lovely ladies were a part of Emily’s wedding party as she married Miles, so it was wonderful for them to all be in the same place together again.

              

This incredible weekend set Emily up with high spirits and renewed vigor as she went in for her 4th round of chemotherapy on Monday.  She was sporting a Great Lung Run shirt in honor of Kelcey Harrison who just passed the halfway (1,270 mile) marker on her run from NY to SF to raise awareness for lung cancer.  Both of these gals are working to beat lung cancer, big time.

Mini Family Reunion in LA

Over the past weekend Emily and Miles were able to spend some quality time with Emily’s grandparents, Larry and Peggy, as well as her aunt, Robin, and cousins, Courtney and Shawna.  Emily’s grandparents are originally from Southern California which is where Emily’s mom and aunts grew up.  Larry and Peggy live in Northern California now and took a little road trip back down south to visit some of their favorite grand-kiddos and attend Larry’s 60th (!!) high school reunion.

The family brought Emily In-N-Out burgers for lunch (her favorite!) since she was still quarantined in the apartment at that time (fortunately, she has since been released back out in to the ‘wild’ though).  The family had a great time talking, laughing, and catching up.  If you look closely in the photo below you can see that Emily is wearing a beautiful opal earring and necklace set.  Many years ago Larry gave the jewelry to Peggy.  The family heirlooms have since been passed on to Emily.

Peggy and Larry with granddaughter Emily, Los Angeles 2012

Peggy and Larry with daughters Cindy (left), Melanie (back), and Emily’s mom Shelley (middle), Los Angeles 1963

R & R in San Diego

In preparation for her second round of chemotherapy, Emily, Miles, and a few friends spent the weekend relaxing and having fun in sunny San Diego.  Emily had regained her strength following the first chemo treatment on July 23rd so Best Buddy Josh Zazulia planned two fun-filled days (complete with Itinerary) to recharge her spirits.  Josh cashed in some of his hard-earned hotel points to get everyone a room at the swanky US Grant Hotel.  When the hotel manager heard that Emily’s fight against lung cancer was the purpose behind the weekend stay, he promptly upgraded the room to the penthouse Presidential Suite.  The suite was amazing – complete with two levels, exceptionally sparkly crystal chandeliers, panoramic views of the city, and one bed for eleven people.  No problem though – there was plenty of floor space so Josh dutifully ordered five roll-away cots (all at one hour intervals in hopes that the hotel would not catch on).

The gang spent time at the beach, walked around the Gaslamp District, ate good food, partook in competitive board gaming, and laughed an obscene amount.  The trip served as a reminder of all the incredible things that we have to be grateful for.  Tomorrow, Emily heads to City of Hope for her next round of chemotherapy relaxed, in good spirits, and just slightly tanner than she was before.

Click on the photos below if you would like to see an enlarged version.

Jig for Joy

The EmBenKicksCancer blog has hit the 100 follower mark!!  Additionally, in the two and a half weeks since the website first went live, there have been almost 30,000 page views!  Many heartfelt thanks to everyone who has been following Emily’s progress and cheering her on from near and far.  Your love and support is critical in her fight to kick cancer.

Now it’s time for a joyish little Irish Jig to celebrate! 🙂

Back-story on the video:  During the spring and summer of 2001, when Emily was studying abroad in Madrid, Spain and I was studying in England, we met up to take a road trip around Ireland.  When we got the rental car (complete with steering wheel on the right [aka wrong] side) the first thing that came on the radio was some traditional Irish music.  All excited for the trip that lay ahead, the obvious thing to do was to jig for joy.
~ Annie Daun, Webmaster

Developments in Davis

On Monday, July 30th, Miles and his sister EmTay had a conference call with Danielle Hicks, the Director of Patient Advocacy at the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.  This incredible woman was on her family vacation and took the time to review all of Emily’s records and inform Miles and EmTay of the incredible research by Dr. David Gandara, the head of Thoracic Oncology at UC Davis. Normally it takes months to get an appointment with this leading lung cancer researcher, but the following day Miles and Emily got a call that Dr. Gandara would see them on Wednesday morning.  Emily can’t fly right now due to her chemo treatments so the two of them jumped in the car and headed 400 miles north to Davis (just outside of Sacramento).

Dr. Gandara and Emily

Emily loved Dr. Gandara and found him to be incredibly informative. If MIT’s Foundation One (a molecular testing lab that is testing the 312 possible drivers of her cancer) can’t identify the driver gene in her cancer, Dr. Gandara will biopsy Emily’s lung and inject her tumor into mice to observe mutations and test treatments.

Emily’s reaction: I feel bad for the mice.

Big Things in the Big Apple

Most visitors to NYC would try to squeeze in a visit to the Empire State Building or a Broadway play – not these two!  On a short trip to NYC for a family wedding, Michele (mother-in-law) and EmTay (sister-in-law) traveled uptown to Mount Sinai in an attempt to meet with one of the most progressive Thoracic Surgeons in the world.  Dr. Raja Flores took the time to review Emily’s case.  He was brilliant and charming and may be the answer to our prayers.

EmTay and Dr. Raja Flores

EmTay and Michele – All smiles in Central Park after a great visit with Dr Flores