PSU news by
Penn State's student blog

Topics

About

Emily Whitehead, THON Appreciation

Emily Whitehead

What did you ask for this past Christmas? An iPad, new laptop, a new pair of shoes? This past Christmas, Emily Whitehead would have rather spent her time in the hospital undergoing her bone marrow and stem cell transplant after her relapse, than risk missing THON 2012.

“We would rather lose those holidays than THON,” Emily’s father, said.

Emily is a 6-year-old fighting to beat acute lymphoblastic leukemia, an aggressive and rare form of cancer. Emily was diagnosed on May 28, 2010. Within the first week of being at Hershey Medical Center, the staff informed Emily’s parents, Thomas and Kari Whitehead, about the Four Diamonds Fund and they have been involved ever since.

Originally, Emily was only supposed to have 27 months of treatment; however, she relapsed while still being treated on October 7, 2010. At that time, Emily was a high-risk patient and needed a bone marrow transplant. But two weeks ago on February 4, 2012, Emily relapsed again. During routine blood work, it was discovered that Emily’s white blood count was 115,000 while a normal range is anywhere between 4,500 and 13,500.

The doctors told the Whiteheads that it is very rare for anyone to relapse during treatment and also rare to see a patient, who had responded so well to chemo, relapse so quickly.

The doctors told the Whiteheads that there was no protocol. So doctors came up with a new regimen of chemotherapy, heavier than she had ever had before, in hopes that it would kill the cancer, but there was no guarantee that it would successfully bring the white blood count down. But as of Friday, Emily’s white blood count went down to 200; although she has barely any immune system, the cancer cells have died.

Emily went from having 85 percent of the cells in her blood being cancerous two weeks ago, to having none of them cancerous as of Friday. Emily also started a new round of chemo Friday and it was the first day that they had not found any cancer cells. Her stem cell and bone marrow transplant is now scheduled for March 20, 2012.

Emily’s sponsored organization is the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) at Penn State. “Her best morale days are when she’s getting her visitors from THON,” Thomas Whitehead said. “We have our own family and then we have our THON family.”

The Whiteheads considered transferring to Philadelphia, PA but after a lot of consideration, they decided it was too far away from family and THON support.

Emily will not be able to attend THON this year but the Whiteheads have a message for all those participating in THON this weekend: “Thanks for everything. We want to express thanks to our organization [PRSSA] for all the money that kept us going with paying the bills that we can’t pay and also to all our connections with people involved with THON – it is priceless.”

Thomas Whitehead also noted that one of Emily’s oncologists, Dr. James Powell of Mount Nittany Physician Group, danced at THON his senior year at Penn State and it inspired him to become a pediatric oncologist.

If you would like to follow Emily’s journey you can follow her blog or find her on Facebook.

About the Author

Comments

More by Nina

Study Spots: Top 10 Hidden Gems

Let’s face it, unless you’re a closet nerd like myself, the only time you’re concerned with where to study is during finals week.

I cannot study unless there are comfortable chairs and pleasant surroundings; I am thoroughly convinced that the quality of study is directly proportional to the quality of the cushion in your chair. So since I’m done with my finals on Sunday, I figured I’d release a few gems — the best study spots around campus. Some places you’d never think of and some buildings you’ve probably never been in, but they’re all excellent places to study (most have comfy chairs).

Out of the Darkness Walk: Walk for a Purpose

One State Without Shoes

Athletics

Penn State Women’s Volleyball Releases 2018 Schedule

Russ Rose’s Nittany Lions won’t play a single home match in September, electing to test themselves against teams like Stanford and Oregon early in the season.

Penn State Hoops Alumnus Joonas Suotamo’s Journey To Becoming Chewbacca Featured On ESPN’s ‘E:60’

Evaluating Tony Carr’s Performance At The 2018 NBA Draft Combine

Penn State Hockey Commit Evan Bell Wins Clark Cup With USHL’s Fargo Force

Center Ludvig Larsson Transfers To Penn State Hockey From Merrimack

Student Life

Penn State Esports Wins Tespa Collegiate Hearthstone Championship

With two Penn State Esport teams in the top eight, the odds of winning the National Championship were ever in our favor.

Road And Utility Work Impacting Penn State This Summer

Where Do Penn Staters Move After Graduation?

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

Predicting Penn State’s 2018 Kickoff Times

As the Nittany Lions have ascended back into college football’s elite, they’ve taken the field at night more often in the past few years and avoided the dreaded early kickoff.

We Are Royalty: Meghan Markle Is A Penn State Fan

Penn State fans are everywhere, even in the British royal family.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Penn State Esports Wins Tespa Collegiate Hearthstone Championship

With two Penn State Esport teams in the top eight, the odds of winning the National Championship were ever in our favor.

Send this to a friend