Carl June

by Emily Whitehead
Courtesy Penn Medicine

I was a fun and energetic child. Then I spent two years in a hospital getting cancer treatment, but it wasn’t working for me. That’s when my parents and I learned about an experimental treatment, called T cell, that would train my immune system to fight my cancer; it hadn’t been tried on a pediatric patient before. My parents believed that this was the right choice for me, and we transferred to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to enter the trial.

After getting the treatment, I went into a 14-day coma and awakened on my seventh birthday. But the treatment had worked! We later learned that Dr. Carl June’s research had created this treatment. Dr. June saved my life and had a huge impact on my family. Without him, I wouldn’t be here today writing this—and my parents and I wouldn’t be helping other kids beat cancer.

Dr. June is my hero! He saved my family.

Whitehead, who is now 12, is a founder of the nonprofit Emily Whitehead Foundation, which aims to raise awareness and funding for childhood cancer treatments

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