PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A star-studded broadcast for Stand Up To Cancer celebrates ten years of groundbreaking cancer research on Friday.
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will get a special shout out on the national broadcast with a focus on its breakthrough new cancer treatment and the first patient to test that therapy will also be part of the big show.
“I think it’s pretty neat to be able to go and be on the red carpet,” said 13-year-old Emily Whitehead during a dress rehearsal for the Stand Up To Cancer event in Los Angeles.
Emily has become a celebrity in the cancer community since she has been cured of lymphoblastic leukemia by a revolutionary treatment.
“Right now, I’m feeling really good and I’m in eighth-grade and I love to do art,” Emily told Eyewitness News.
Emily was first diagnosed in May 2010 when she was 5 years old and relapsed a year later.
“I don’t remember much of the bad stuff,” Emily remarked.
At CHOP, she was the first pediatric patient to receive what’s called CAR-T cell therapy. The treatment reprograms immune cells to attack cancer cells. The drug that does that, Kymriah, was approved by the FDA last year.
“I have to admit to being amazed by how it’s all worked out,” said lead researcher Dr. Stephan Grupp. “It’s just astonishing to me.”
Dr. Grupp says the therapy has been a game changer for the treatment of blood cancers, and it all started with Emily.
“What’s been fascinating to me is that little girl who’s grown up now has become the international face of cell therapy and its just been amazing,” he added.
Dr. Grupp, Emily, and the CHOP research that led to the development of Kymriah will be acknowledged during the Stand Up To Cancer show.
“I think all of it is incredibly exciting,” Dr. Grupp said.
“It’s an honor for us to be involved,” Emily’s father shared.
Stand Up To Cancer has brought together doctors and scientists from all over the country to coordinate research and raise money.
So far, $480 million has been pledged. The Stand Up For Cancer will air on CBS at 8 p.m. Friday.