Emily's story 

The illness

Channel 7's Sunrise report about Emily's search

Emily is a young Australian woman who was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Primary Mediastinal Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma. Emily needed donor stem cells for a cure however struggled to find one because of her Chinese ancestry. A patient is more likely to find their match with someone who shares a similar ethnic background. 

Emily was 36 years old when she relapsed with the disease for the second time in 3 years (she was diagnosed in 2010). She underwent several forms of treatment including chemotherapy and radiation to the head, before being told she needed a stem cell match to have a stem cell/bone marrow transplant as her last chance for a cure. 


Emily's 5 year old son Luke made her this book called "Family Dinosaur"

A desperate plea in the media

Emily promised her family (husband Giulian, and son Luke) that she would leave "no stone unturned" to find her life-saving match. “I didn't want to live forever until I had my son.” So her search was spread far and wide. It was reported in media around the world as she pleaded with people from the Asian community to join the bone marrow registry. It featured on channel 7's Sunrise program, a Canadian newspaper, American based blog Angry Asian Man and lots more.


Overcoming cultural barriers in the Asian community

A short film raising awareness for Emily Needs Stem Cells.

Emily and her family/friends even set up a website www.emilyneedsstemcells.com where they created many resources such as posters for people to print and share, translated explanations in Chinese and Japanese (see below) and even a short film. As Tseen Khoo notes in her blog, "We (Asians) don’t tend to register to donate blood, organs, or stem cells as much as other communities" and that a 2002 study states that Asian Americans, "... expressed concerns about the body remaining whole after death” (Spigner et al 2002: 99). It is a big challenge to overcome this cultural barrier however all that is needed is greater awareness and education, something Emily is passionate about. She knew that even if she couldn't find her match, that maybe someone else would, and that the extra awareness her story was creating in the Asian community was a good thing. Emily said, “It’s a bit taboo in my culture to speak so openly about these ‘loss of face’ situations but I have no choice." More emphasis may need to be placed on the message that a person does not lose any part of their body when they donate their stem cells; it is excess stem cells that are taken and the body replenishes its stem cells in a short amount of time.

Asian community rallying behind Emily 

Many people from the Asian community came together to help Emily and support the cause. Andy Trieu (SBS host of 'Pop Asia' and If you are the one'), Maria Tran (Australian-Vietnamese actress, model and presenter) Lawrence Leung (Australian comedian, writer and director), Joy Hopwood (Australian author and actress) and Alice Pung (Australian author), all came together to be part of video productions to raise awareness. Dawen (a well-known singer-songwriter from Taiwan) also got on board.

Karen Cheng, a fashion and life blogger also wrote a great blog entry about her experience joining the bone marrow registry, "the whole thing took less than 10 minutes"! She also started a Facebook page "I've got Chinese stem cells" and encouraged people of Chinese heritage to take photos of themselves joining the bone marrow registry to show how easy it is. 

Did Emily find her match?

Emily with her husband Giulian and son Luke

Despite the tremendous efforts and support of those around her, Emily was still unable to find a match. Instead she went onto a clinical trial using radioimmunotherapy (I131-rituximab). Emily is now 38 years old and her future is unclear. She is still in remission and is now back at work and writing a book about her cancer experiences. Emily and her family hope that she stays well and that they will not need that stem cell donor, however they are aware that there are still so many patients waiting for their life-saving match, especially those from ethnic and indigenous communities.

Asian countries are the most populous in the world and there is potential for many more people to join the bone marrow registry not only in Australia but overseas too. The bone marrow registries in the different countries are inter-connected so patients can find their match with anyone in the world. At the end of the day all that is needed is greater awareness and education. As seen from the wonderful response of the Asian community after Emily's story, once people are told about the bone marrow registry and how easily they can save another person's life, they are quick to help out! 


For Chinese donors 

家住澳洲的Emily,今年36歲,但不幸重患B細胞非霍奇金氏淋巴瘤。Emily 在2010年初次患癌症,當時第一次接受化療.  2011年癌症復發出現在中央神經系統,她第二次接受二十回的化療。

現在Emily的癌症又第二次復發. 這次的治療,是必須移植Emily原本的幹細胞,但之後是需要移植別人捐贈的幹細胞。

Emily盼望能看到更多的明天。但她最盼望的是能看著自己的孩子Luke長大。Luke 現在只有五歲。他三歲時就已經看著自己的媽媽患癌症。


很多人對幹細胞捐贈有點誤會。幹細胞不是取自胎兒,而是取自成人的週邊血液。要對幹細胞有更多的認識,請點 http://tw.tzuchi.org/btcscc/donation/03.htm

如何能幫助Emily? 如果您是亞洲籍的人士,請你到你的國家骨髓幹細胞中心登記為志願捐贈者。捐贈初步只作「捐者血樣複檢」,髓幹細胞中心會安排醫護人員為您進行從手臂週邊血 管抽血的步驟,抽血量一般在10cc~40cc左右(視各移植中心需求而定)。若是檢驗結果皆為移植醫院接受,該中心會再與您聯繫進行健康檢查,以協商採 集週邊血幹細胞的日期。這全面過程是完全免費的。

澳洲 http://www.abmdr.org.au/
加拿大 (中文)http://www.blood.ca/CentreApps/Internet/UW_V502_MainEngine.nsf/resources/OneMatchChinese/$file/ch-info-trad.pdf


For Japanese donors




エミリーはまだまだ生きていなければ、特に、5歳の息子ルークのためにも。ルークは3歳の時からずっと母が治療を受けるのを見てきました。エミリーについて更にお知りになりたい方はParenting With Cancerをご覧ください。