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Discover the incredible true story of Emily Whitehead, the first child to receive CAR-T cell treatment for her leukemia -- and learn how her family's faith journey guided them in the fight for her life.
When their five-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia, Tom and Kari Whitehead's world was shattered. They vowed to do whatever it took to help their daughter, and as they made decisions about how to best treat her, Tom found his faith coming to him in "whispers," guiding his decisions and keeping his hope alive, while Kari placed great faith in science and the doctors surrounding her little girl. But as Emily's condition continued to worsen, they both prayed for a miracle.
Then, their miracle arrived, in the form of an experimental treatment called CAR-T cell therapy that, against all odds, saved Emily's life. Because of Emily's miraculous recovery, this treatment is now used widely to treat cancer and has gone on to save hundreds of lives and promises to help thousands more. For all the acclaim and attention this important new approach to treating cancer has received, few know the full story of all it took to make this miracle happen.
In Praying for Emily, the Whiteheads share their story, recounting the belief, resilience, and support that got them through the most difficult time of their lives.
About the Author
Tom, Kari, and Emily Whitehead are co-founders of the Emily Whitehead Foundation, which raises funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research. The foundation was created in honor of Emily who was diagnosed at age five with an aggressive form of leukemia that failed to respond to chemotherapy. As a last hope, Emily was enrolled in a clinical trial and became the first child in the world to receive the pioneering cancer treatment called CAR T-cell therapy. The therapy worked, and Emily remains cancer free.
The Whitehead Family travels worldwide as keynote speakers to inspire others and advocate for research funding to develop less toxic childhood cancer treatments. When they aren't traveling, Tom works as a journeyman lineman for a power company, and Kari is a Registered Dietitian. Emily attends high school and plans to become an artist or filmmaker. The Whiteheads live in Central Pennsylvania with their chihuahua named Luna.
Author and journalist Danelle Morton has collaborated on sixteen books including four New York Times bestsellers.
"An incredible, beautifully written chronicle of a life-saving therapy, and the story of the family that endured and brought the therapy to life. This book is an affirmation of the power of science merged with the power of faith."
—Siddhartha Mukherjee, New York Times bestselling author of The Emperor of All Maladies
"Emily impressed me with her fortitude, confident, and nonchalant attitude. The story of how she and her parents persevered through the challenges they faced is deeply meaningful to me and I know will be truly inspirational for others."
"Playing in the NFL, I have seen my share of tough individuals who were successful because their opponents were unwilling to match their desire to win. Emily's battle with cancer showed this exact toughness. She would not give up!... The story of Emily overcoming all odds to beat cancer, the most ferocious opponent, is inspiring and reinforces the power of hope."
—Jon Condo, Retired All Pro NFL Long Snapper
"In this remarkable story, Emily's aggressive childhood cancer is beaten back when family, faith, and science converge... Emily and her parents tell their story, bringing us along to share in the urgency as different treatments are tried, and together they reveal the promise of cancer research and how immunotherapy has become a pillar of cancer therapy in just a few short years."
—Sung Poblete, PhD, RN, CEO, Stand Up to Cancer
"There are stories that forever change the way we view human health. Praying for Emily is a poignant portrayal of the courage and determination of Emily Whitehead and her family... I am profoundly moved by the Whitehead family's strength throughout their journey and inspired by the ways they have wielded their hope and heartache to help families like them-families who intimately know what it means to look toward a cancer-free future and fight to realize it."
—Vas Narasimhan, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Novartis
"A truly beautiful story of the courage of a family who made a gigantic leap of faith in science and health care, and in so doing, pushed medicine into the next frontier of what is possible...This book will allow patients and those who have lost hope to find new hope, inspiration, and beauty in the possibility of making the impossible possible.
—Christian Barkey, CEO of Barkey GmbH
"A truly remarkable and uplifting story that is a page-turner and roller coaster ride of emotion all in one! You won't be able to put it down and you'll be thrilled that you didn't when you get to the triumphant ending."
—Pamela Oas Williams, Film and Television Producer
"Praying for Emily is a thought provoking and heartfelt account of what it means to face the impossible with prayer. Tom and Kari looked into the eyes of their sick child and did the one thing that cancer (and most of the world) did not expect them to do - believe. Because of their faith, the Whiteheads were not only able to save their child, but in sharing their personal experience and story of unrelenting hope - will save so many more. I believe and you will too."
—Lori Rothschild Ansaldi, Documentary Filmmaker, friend, advocate of life
"This remarkable story is a hero's journey but it's so much more than that: it is the essence of the power of love. I don't know the meaning of life but this is pretty darn close!"
—Jason Flom, Founder, LAVA Media, LLC