Living with One Lung: Emily Bennett Taylor’s Life After Cancer

Emily Bennett Taylor was born on November 12, 1946 in Chicago, Illinois. She died at age 44 on December 28, 2016 from complications following surgery to remove her right lung. Emily had been diagnosed with stage 4 non-small cell carcinoma of the small intestine (carcinoma) when she was just 10 years old. Her mother, Mary Ann (Bennett) Taylor, died of ovarian cancer at age 54 in 1990.

At the time of her diagnosis Emily was working as a secretary at a local bank where she met her future husband David Taylor. They married in 1991 and moved to their home state of Michigan where they raised two children. In 1993 Emily became pregnant again and gave birth to their daughter Sarah Jane in 1994. Shortly thereafter Emily underwent a double mastectomy to remove both her left and right ovaries.

Doctors told her that if she did not undergo chemotherapy immediately, it would likely result in death. However, Emily refused treatment because she wanted to spend time with her family before deciding whether or not to continue with chemo.

In 1995 Emily began undergoing radiation treatments which were successful in shrinking the tumor. As a result she did not lose her right lung but it was weakened and could no longer function properly resulting in a compromised immune system. Over the next few years she found that she was frequently sick and spent much of this time bedridden.

In July of 2015, an X-ray revealed that the tumor was growing again and so she had surgery to remove her right lung in order to prolong her life. The surgery was successful and she was able to return home in November of 2015. In 2016 she was awarded the prestigious Compassionate Care Award by the University of Michigan for her ongoing work with cancer patients.

In December of 2016, it was discovered that the tumor had returned yet again and this time had spread throughout her entire body. The doctors told her that there was nothing they could do other than keep her comfortable until she died which would likely be in a matter of months.

On her last Christmas morning, she asked her husband and children to join her in a family photo before dying. After they left for the hospital, she closed her eyes and died from heart failure at age fifty four.

Sources & references used in this article:

Fc effector function contributes to the activity of human anti-CTLA-4 antibodies by …, W Monteiro, H Marshall, L Nelson, J Bennett… – Cancer cell, 2018 – Elsevier

Four Cases of Spontaneous Neoplasia in the Naked Mole-Rat (Heterocephalus glaber), A Putative Cancer-Resistant Species by KR Taylor, NA Milone… – Journals of Gerontology …, 2017 –

Living with cancer: Impact of expressive arts by E Haltiwanger, R Rojo, K Funk – Occupational Therapy in Mental …, 2011 – Taylor & Francis

The psychological consequences of cardiopulmonary resuscitation training for family members of patients at risk for sudden death. by K Dracup, DK Moser, SE Taylor… – American journal of …, 1997 –

An Association of Cancer Physicians’ strategy for improving services and outcomes for cancer patients by …, R Kennedy, S Payne, E Samuel, H Taylor… – …, 2016 –