Heroes

This story of a mom and daughter recovering from cancer is nothing short of remarkable.

'Without the funding for pediatric cancer research I probably wouldn’t have a family.'

This story of a mom and daughter recovering from cancer is nothing short of remarkable.
True
Northwestern Mutual

8-year-old Edie and her mom Emily have a special bond — they both survived the same type of cancer.

They were both diagnosed with neuroblastoma within a few years of each other. However, the ways their cases were discovered were vastly different.

It all started when Edie was only 5 months old. She began to cry all the time and lost her appetite. Her parents, Emily and Nick, took her to the pediatrician a number of times, but he kept telling them it was just a stomach flu, nothing serious.


However, she didn't get better.

Emily hugging Edie. All photos via Northwestern Mutual/YouTube.

When Edie awoke one morning looking yellow, her parents took her to the children's hospital at the University of Virginia, where they learned her body was riddled with tumors. The tumors were growing because Edie had neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that produces tumors along the adrenal system in the body.  

Over the next six months, Edie went through several rounds of treatment and finally had surgery to remove the tumors. For a while, she was cancer-free, but then the cancer came back a second and a third time.

That's when the family was referred to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Dr. Yael Mossé.

Dr. Mossé's dedication to Edie's case changed everything. An experimental drug trial she led ultimately saved Edie's life.

Dr. Mossé and Edie.

"I didn’t think anything could cure her, but I can tell you, as soon as Dr. Mossé walked into the room, I knew we were at the right place," recalls Emily.

She put Edie on a new chemotherapy drug called Crizotinib.

Edie didn't care much for the taste of it. "It tasted like rotten something," she told The State, her hometown paper. But, within 28 days of being on it, she was pronounced cancer-free.

She stayed on the drug for several years just to be safe, but the cancer never returned.

After that, the family was flying high on their good fortune, until Emily became pregnant with the couple's second child.

Emily Gilger.

She was seven months into her pregnancy when she stared experiencing shooting pains in her back. Thinking it was kidney stones, she went to have an ultrasound and learned her adrenal glands were enlarged.

The situation sounded all too familiar to Nick. He immediately reached out to Dr. Mossé who, in turn, ordered many tests. Sure enough, Emily had neuroblastoma, just like her daughter. Since Edie's case was proven hereditary, the likelihood that her mom would also get the disease was high.

Thankfully, the family had already made a connection with a fantastic doctor and hospital. Emily was treated at CHOP by Dr. Mossé with the same medication her daughter had taken.

Three years later, Emily is still in remission and has two healthy children. And it's all thanks to pediatric cancer research.

Today, the family can often be found conducting fundraising events for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation— a nonprofit dedicated to funding pediatric cancer research.

Emily and Edie fundraising for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.

"We're here now to make an impact on the lives of others," Emily says.

Despite the fact that cancer is the leading cause of death in children, only 4% of all federal funding for cancer research goes to pediatric cancer. Organizations like Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation and Northwestern Mutual are making a concerted effort to make up the difference.

But, of course, the doctors doing the research are the real heroes. There's a reason the Gilgers consider Dr. Mossé family — she gave them back their future.

Watch Edie and Emily's whole story here:

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less