World Cancer Day – Switzerland


February 4th is a day where people around the world unite in an effort to raise awareness about cancer, and work together to make it a global health priority. Far too many lives are lost to cancer – many of which can be prevented through educating, advocating and raising awareness.

Kari Whitehead and I were invited to speak at GE Life Sciences, Cell and Gene Therapy division in Geneva, Switzerland this past week. The goal: to share our personal experiences with T-cell immunotherapy, and to inspire those who have dedicated their careers to these life-saving treatments. To bring this reality full-circle, it often helps to see (or hear) the end result – the patients and the families who have been given a second chance.

On behalf of the Emily Whitehead Foundation and World Cancer Day, I felt compelled to share our experience.

Upon arriving in Switzerland, Kari and I had a very warm welcome from our friendly team at GE. Excited to have the opportunity to share with and thank those who have impacted our lives, we looked forward to being a part of this event.

An entire afternoon was arranged for us to speak and participate in Q & A with some very profound professionals in cell and gene therapy. For Kari and I, it was a blessing to engage in such forward-thinking conversation. We addressed some problems – like why these new and advanced therapies are not made more quickly and available for the many sick patients in desperate need. With 8 million lives lost to cancer each year (and climbing), there are plenty of patients who can lead and fill new and existing clinical trials. So, what is the hold up? Action. We need to take action. There are many components that go into the expansion of cell and gene therapy products – just as there are many components that go into expanding awareness for such.

In an effort to help our communities gain knowledge and access to cellular therapies, the Emily Whitehead Foundation was created. The foundation has provided community support and continues help and inspire many.

World Cancer Day is a perfect opportunity to spread the word and create global awareness for such therapies. The 2019 theme for World Cancer Day is I can and I will. I can and I will continue to advocate and raise awareness – and I ask all of you to help by doing the same – for we are all affected by cancer in some way.

Please visit the Emily Whitehead Foundation for more information.


2 thoughts on “World Cancer Day – Switzerland

  1. Dear Nicole, Your story is very inspiring to us and I am sure to everyone else in the world. Our 3 year old son has been fighting leukemia since his 2nd birthday. May I ask how long did it take to manufacture your CART22 cells (from T-cell collection to infusion)?
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us all.
    We pray for you and all those going through such a disease to remain cancer free and live a long and happy life.


    • Dear Jamal, I am so sorry to hear about your son – it is upsetting knowing that children cannot receive CAR T-cell therapy as a first-line treatment. Are you looking at accessing a cell therapy trial? My cells were manufactured in UPenn’s laboratory. CART19 took four weeks (in 2016) and CART22 took three weeks (in 2018). There are some (I believe most to be outsourced) manufacturing companies that can do this in less time. It just depends on the trial.

      If you would like further information or need help finding a trial, you are welcome to email me at

      Sending positive vibes and healing prayers your way.


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