Articles by Nedra Lindsey
Despite its rather daunting name, cytomegalovirus, or CMV, is harmless in most cases. But, for people whose immune systems are weakened, such as cancer patients and transplant patients, the virus can flare up and cause life-threatening complications.
For pregnant women who have not developed immunity to CMV, the virus can present a severe threat to their unborn children.
“These women are at high risk of transmitting the virus to the fetus if they are infected with CMV during pregnancy, which often leads to congenital developmental disabilities in newborns,” said Felix Wussow, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in City of Hope’s Division of Translational Vaccine Research.
The development of a CMV vaccine has been ranked at the highest priority by the Institute of Medicine; however a licensed vaccine is not yet available, he added.
One of every 150 children is born with congenital CMV infection and one of every five of those children develops permanent health issues as a result, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If there is anyone whose spirit embodies the word indomitable, it is Michelle Gearhart-Pash. She has battled six separate occurrences of breast cancer and bested the disease every time.
Rather than retreat to her own life and avoid all talk about cancer, Gearhart-Pash has become a shoulder to lean on, a person to talk to and an advocate for others as the chair of City of Hope’s Patient and Family Advisory Council. That’s a group of patients and caregivers who give feedback and recommendations on City of Hope patient-care services.
“I don’t have a problem hearing someone’s story,” she says. “People ask me if they can have a friend or co-worker talk to me, and I always say ‘of course.’”