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.

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! 😀

Building An Army

We are proud to be part of this special video highlighting the new studies and support provided by the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.  Lung cancer is a global epidemic that needs a global solution.  We are building an army.  Please watch, share, and join us.

Much love,
Emily & Miles

P.S. Happy Birthday, Bonnie J. Addario!  You are our hero!

Steve Harvey…and One Cup of $5 Tea

Emily made her national television debut on the Steve Harvey Show on Thursday.  She was beautiful, poised, and eloquent as she shared her story and thanked her personal hero and mentor, Bonnie Addario.  If you missed the live show, you can watch Emily and Bonnie’s segment HERE.

EmHam and EmTay at Steve HarveyDuring the Steve Harvey taping, Emily had two familiar faces cheering her on in the audience – her sister in law, Emily Taylor (EmTay), and EmTay’s best friend from college, Emily Hampson (EmHam).  (Note: Miles also managed to sneak in despite not meeting the prerequisite of being named Emily)  EmHam has been a huge supporter of EmBen – she sends regular care packages and will be making the trek from her hometown of Chicago to San Francisco for the Lung Run on September 29th.  EmHam has her own blog and this week she made this poignant post to help raise funds and drive awareness.

One Cup of $5 Tea

Next Wednesday, Sept 25th, I will turn 33.  There was never any question in my mind that I might not reach this age.  That I wouldn’t be married, settled in the suburbs with a toddler hanging off my hip, scrubbing crusted spaghetti sauce off the inside of the microwave.  I am certain I have managed to take for granted most of my 12,000 plus days here on Earth and I have done so with the careless comfort of believing that death was something you fumbled upon in your 80’s and even 90’s.  I have had other vital matters to attend to.  Like fretting over the zit that perennially forms in the crease of my chin and those flights that were delayed over two hours due to tornadoes in the Oklahoma Panhandle and the nor’easter in Maine, and my beloved houndstooth sweater that shrunk in the dryer, not once but twice.  I have been aimlessly distracted, attempting to recall ridiculously devised computer passwords, hunting down parking spots, burning frozen pizzas in the oven, and making sure my daughter didn’t rip the pages out of all the Dr. Seuss books.  For the past 33 years, I have had that pleasure.  This past year, however, everything was jarred.  Shaken up and stirred. 

I found out a year ago this past July that my best friend from college’s sister-in-law had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer at 28.  She was a star volleyball player in college, a newlywed, a gorgeous and avid athlete, and a person who had never once touched a cigarette.  Her name is also Emily.  And I guarantee you she would have given anything that summer to worry about marinara in her microwave. 

Emily’s good friends started a blog last year help keep those who cared for her informed throughout her journey.  She endured multiple rounds of chemo out in Los Angeles, which led to a complete lung removal surgery in New York this February, followed by 28 unrelenting radiation treatments.  With her family, a buttress of steel behind her, Emily has battled, fought, persevered, and maintained her lovely sense of humor and gracious spirit with gargantuan grit and guts.  She is officially NED (No Evidence of Disease) as of this spring, and is gaining her strength and stamina back little by little with the support of streaming Netflix, electrolyte water, daily walks with her pooch, and her loving and devoted husband, Miles.  Likely not in that order.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being a guest in the audience when Emily made her television debut at a taping of the Steve Harvey show here in Chicago. The producers had flown her in from the West Coast so that she could surprise and thank her mentor and hero, Bonnie Addario, Founder and President of the Bonnie Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, who has raised over $10 million for research, medical support, and awareness to eradicate this devastating disease.  There was Steve Harvey’s perfectly-positioned couch.  And there was this breathtakingly beautiful girl with long brown hair and a poppy red dress, poised and postured with her ankles crossed under the glare of the studio cameras.   The gasps in the audience were audible when it was revealed that she was in fact the face of lung cancer.  This bright young woman, oozing with the promise of a giant life yet to live, sitting there, confiding her brutal battle to simply survive. 

I was shocked at how neglected lung cancer funding is when I did some digging online.  It is the most lethal cancer, and yet it receives the least amount of funding from the National Cancer Institute.   It garners a fraction of the dollars that go to breast cancer, for example, and yet is second only to heart disease in cause of death.    There seems to be a stigma associated with lung cancer as a smoker’s condition that is self-inflicted.  However, more and more young non-smokers and especially women are contracting it.  All the while funding is desperately needed to aid these patients and educate the public on belying the myths of lung cancer.  Even the ribbon signifying the disease was formerly clear, giving subtle reference to its invisibility and lack of deserved attention.  It has since evolved to white and I will be proudly wearing that ribbon next week when I run in the Your Next Step is the Cure 5K in San Francisco with Team EmBen.  Did I say run?  Okay, jog… well, powerwalk for sure.  I will cross that finish line though, despite being embarrassingly out of shape and floppy in various key places. 

Which leads me to my 33rd birthday.  I’m not in the habit of buying lavish birthday gifts for my compadres, but who doesn’t love splurging on a draft pint or classy cosmo for a friend, toasting to their companionship and to another year of warding off grey hair?  Pretend I am that friend this week….. that you are treating me to a steaming cup of earl grey (decaf for those who really know me) and a long overdue chat, and instead toss some change to the Bonnie Addario fundraising site in honor of EmBen.   I even put the website here to make it easy for you: CLICK HERE TO DONATE!!!

And remember to set your DVRs this Thursday, September 19th to watch a poignant story of survival and support unfold on the Steve Harvey Show (NBC).  Never mind that it comes after a teen sexting segment, I promise you will be moved.  I promise you will turn off the television and not care that you forgot to buy the orange juice at the supermarket.  And I hope you may just feel inspired enough to “take me out” for a $5 tea… 

                                                                                           

There is still time to donate or register to join EmBen, EmHam, and EmTay at the Lung Run in San Francisco as they walk/powerwalk/run to end lung cancer.  All of the details can be found HERE.  Thanks for your support, hopefully we’ll see you next weekend!!!

https://vimeopro.com/lungcancerfoundation/news/video/75054783

Dr. Flores is THE MAN

Dr. Raja Flores is a world renowned thoracic surgeon and the only doctor who was willing to operate on Emily once it was determined the cancer had moved into the lining of her lung.

On the day after surgery, once Emily was sitting up and more alert, Dr. Flores told her more about her successful operation.  He was pleased with how clean everything looked once the affected body parts were removed, and gave Emily great pride when re-living how difficult it was to cut through her strong lateral muscles (not a surprise to anyone who has seen her throw a football).  He said that because of her strength, they are able to throw a lot of harsh medicine at her, and she will withstand it and recover.  “My part was easy,” he told the family, “now Emily needs to be a warrior.  Don’t worry about the weekend or the blizzard.  I will be here Saturday and Sunday, even if I have to wear snow shoes to get to the hospital.”

Miles exited with Dr. Flores to ask a question he did not want to ask in front of Emily:  Was she NED (medical acronym for No Evidence of Disease)?

Dr. Flores responded that she is in fact now N.E.D., and that he personally wanted to go back in and tell her himself.  It was an emotional moment when he knelt down, put his hand on Emily’s knee, and told her that she had finally achieved her elusive goal: “N.E.D.”

Em and Dr Raja

Before going to sleep that night, with the lights out, Miles sat beside Emily on the bed.  Holding hands, they looked back on the past seven months and the path that led to Dr. Flores.  She sighed, “I love that man.”

As Emily drifted off, she smiled and said, “Miles…This is the best day of my life.”

Em, Miles, and NED

Enjoy this video of Emily rockin’ it on day two post-surgery.  Dr Flores may have taken her lung, but certainly not her attitude 🙂

Garland Does It Again

As many of you know, Miles works for an incredible organization called The Garland Company.  Back in August, 35 members of the Garland family attended a cancer research benefit in Emily’s honor.  The Garland Company’s show of support for Emily and Miles did not end there though.  Since September, members of the Garland family from around the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom have been providing meals during the nadir and recovery weeks following Emily’s chemotherapy.  Garland for EmBenOver 50 meals from Miles and Emily’s favorite eateries around Los Angeles have been delivered right to their front door.  This amazing gesture has not only kept Emily and Miles well nourished, but without having to think about what they’re going to do for dinner, it’s also given them back precious time to spend together and to focus on much larger day to day challenges.

The Garland Company hosted their annual sales convention in January and Sean Mulligan (i.e. Garland family member extraordinaire who has been coordinating the company’s efforts) gathered Miles and Emily’s meal contributors from around the world together for a big group photo.

Round of applause please!
Garland Meal Donors

Just in case you are not yet 1,973.24% convinced that Garland is the most incredible organization that you want quit your current job and go work for STAT, watch this video about Emily and Miles.  This piece was also put together by the Garland family and shown at the company convention in January.  Enjoy.

To the Garland family – much like Miles and Emily, you are an inspiration to us all!

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!

Gettin’ Closer + Highlight Reel

We are now just two short weeks away from the SCIAC “Dig Deep, Beat Cancer” event honoring our one and only Emily.  On Saturday, October 20th the CMS Athenas will take on the Cal Lutheran Regals in a heated volleyball match.  There will also be fun activities, awesome swag, and great company for everyone in attendance.  For more information check out the new Dig Deep, Beat Cancer tab on the EmBen blog.  You can also RSVP to this great event on Facebook.  Tell all of your friends – we’re going to pack Ducey Gym to the max and help Emily beat lung cancer, big time!

To help get you in the spirit for the night, here are some clips compiled by our dear friend Stevie-G back from when Emily was a senior at CMS.  Enjoy!

Good. Great. Garland.

Emily’s husband Miles works for a wonderful organization called The Garland Company.  On August 17, a group of 35 of his Garland colleagues and guests from the corporate office in Cleveland attended the Ohio Cancer Research Association’s annual dinner in Emily’s honor.  Dave Sokol, President of Garland and honoree of the evening, spoke of Emily’s courage, strength, and willpower.  He shared Emily’s story with the audience and his confidence that, with her determination, she will kick cancer.  In honor of Emily’s fight, the entire Garland group wore white ribbons printed with the sentiment “Hope for Emily.”  The Garland family cares about people, period.  They fight for those who are close to them and for those they may never meet.  Dave closed his acceptance speech with some special words that his mother taught him at a young age…”It is more fun to give than it is to receive.”  Dave and The Garland Company embody this motto and Emily and Miles are so grateful for their incredible love and support.

The following video is an excerpt of Dave Sokol talking about Emily’s fight against lung cancer as he is honored by the Ohio Cancer Research Association.