Whitehead Family Launches ‘Emily Whitehead Foundation’

Nearly three years ago, nine-year old THON child Emily Whitehead was the first child in the world to receive an experimental T-cell therapy. Now cancer-free for three years, Emily and her family are launching the Emily Whitehead Foundation to raise funds for pediatric cancer research.

The foundation hopes to ultimately determine a cure for pediatric cancer while promoting cancer awareness and supporting families that are currently battling the disease. The non-profit will fund treatments like the T-cell therapy and provide financial assistance to other pediatric cancer families.

“We want Emily to be able to tell her grandkids that she was the beginning of the end of cancer. Emily does not want to lose any more friends to cancer,” said Emily’s father Tom Whitehead in a press release. “We believe in a cure and if we work together we can put an end to this terrible disease.”

Emily was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2010, and her recovery has received worldwide attention. Emily famously became the first child to receive experimental T-cell therapy in 2012 after her family was told it was out of treatment options. T-cell therapy takes T-cells from the patient and genetically reprograms them to recognize and attack cancer cells.

Emily’s family recently posted on her blog to provide an update on Emily’s status.

“She has been feeling great and she is thriving in 4th grade, learning to play the piano, and finally ready to try organized sports. We continue to get amazing offers for film and TV projects and we tell everybody as long as Emily feels good and that they make it fun for her then we will participate,” the family said. “The message is what is important and we want to make sure in the future all parents who battle pediatric cancer have the outcome that we have had. We know that there are many other trials waiting to start that need funded. Emily has even said when asked in interviews that she doesn’t want to lose any more friends.”

The post also says that “the T-cells are still working and [Emily’s] bloodwork looks perfect.”

To learn more about the Emily Whitehead Foundation, the non-profit organization encourages everyone to visit its website.

Photo: Whitehead Foundation

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Greg Schlosser

Greg is a senior majoring in energy engineering at Penn State. He is a big fan of Pittsburgh sports and sandwiches with coleslaw and french fries. You can email him at [email protected] or find him at the Phyrst drunkenly requesting the band to play "One Headlight."

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