At just 32-years old and 33-weeks pregnant, Emily Daniels lived the kind of life that many of us strive for. With a baby boy on the way, a loving husband, a healthy and happy 3-year old daughter, family and friends close by, a good job, and active social life, there was much to be grateful for. By all accounts, her day-to-day was perfectly normal and just the right amount of hectic.
This past February, as Emily was about to depart for a business trip, she began experiencing chest pains. She called her doctor who quickly advised her to head to the ER, concerned the chest pain signaled a blood clot. At the hospital, she received a CT scan and discovered a mass on her lung.
Emily did everything right. She ate healthily, exercised regularly, and never smoked. To be diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer this early in life felt cruel and unfair, but Emily and her family have never been ones to wallow. They would focus on bringing their baby into this world; the cancer would have to wait.
At 35 weeks, Emily gave birth to Brady, an adorable baby boy that brightens up their lives on a daily basis. Determined to stay positive and care for her grandkids one day, Emily steeled herself for what was ahead.
Emily made her way to one of the world’s most renowned lung cancer oncologists, Dr. Ross Camidge, who is the Director of Thoracic Oncology at UCH, oversees the Lung Cancer Colorado Fund, and was named a “luminary in the quest to eradicate lung cancer.” Research is ongoing, and new advancements are made every day. The FDA, for example, approved the treatment Emily takes just six months before her diagnosis. Emily’s lung cancer has a genetic mutation known as ALK, which made her eligible for the cutting edge, targeted treatment that has been transforming the way we think about the disease. Lung cancer patients are now living longer and with minimal side effects thanks to these newly available drugs.
While Emily may never be “cured” of her lung cancer, the tumors are shrinking, and there is hope for a future. Rather than a terminal illness, Emily sees her lung cancer as a chronic disease to be managed. She is grateful to have more time. Time she will spend snuggling her new baby and celebrating his first birthday. Time she will spend taking her daughter to Disneyland and watching her start kindergarten. And time she will spend supporting others fighting lung cancer alongside her.
Emily’s resolve to fight lung cancer with every fiber of her being and every last breath extends beyond the cancer in her own body. After receiving her diagnosis, she began raising money for lung cancer research and is working to lift the stigma surrounding the illness. By supporting the science and continued research, Emily hopes that future mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters won’t go through the heartache, pain, and uncertainty she and her family have experienced.
Join Emily on this journey by supporting Links for Lungs. All proceeds from the event will be donated to the Lung Cancer of Colorado Fund, which funds lung cancer research and is bringing us one step closer to ridding the world of this deadly disease.