Christine Crews isn’t only a fitness enthusiast, she’s also a personal trainer and fitness instructor. Being active defines her life. So when she was diagnosed with bladder cancer at age 30, she decided she absolutely couldn’t let the disease interfere with that lifestyle.
And it didn’t. For the next 15 years, Crews continued to run marathons, teach fitness classes and train 20 to 30 clients a week, all while fighting her bladder cancer with chemotherapy and periodic tumor removals.
Thanks to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), high school students across the state gained valuable hands-on experience with stem cell research this summer. City of Hope hosted eight of those students.
As part of the CIRM Creativity Awards program, the young scholars worked full time as members of our biomedical research teams. They received mentoring from physicians and scientists and interacted closely with each other and their mentors to gain firsthand practice in laboratory research with stem cells.
Through the Creativity Awards, CIRM supported students at nine institutions throughout the state. Students were encouraged to share their experiences through various social media outlets with videos, blog posts and Instagram photos.
The video, produced by student interns here at City of Hope, was named a favorite by CIRM and gained widespread attention from news media outlets including NBC4 Los Angeles, the Bay Area’s ABC7 and NBC4 in New York. Drawing from the hit movie “Frozen,” the video encourages stem cells (and presumably the students) to — you guessed it — “Let It Grow.”
Take a look, and join us in congratulating these creative young scientists.
Donating blood and platelets saves lives. We all know this. Yet every summer, potential blood donors become distracted by vacations and schedule changes. As a result, blood donations fall dramatically across the nation, leaving hospitals frantically trying to bring in much-needed blood for their patients.
Earlier this week, the American Red Cross sent out an urgent appeal for blood, reporting that donations are down about 8 percent over the past 11 weeks. “The shortfall is significant enough that the Red Cross could experience an emergency situation in the coming weeks,” the organization said on its website.
Hospitals with trauma and emergency departments aren’t the only institutions that need blood. City of Hope patients need more than 37,000 units of blood and platelets each year. In comparison, City of Hope’s Michael Amini Transfusion Medicine Center brings in about 22,300 units of blood and platelets each year, not nearly enough to meet the hospital’s needs. » Continue Reading
To be a great cancer hospital, you need a great oncology program. Just ask City of Hope – and Becker’s Hospital Review.
The health care publishing industry stalwart, described as the “leading hospital magazine for hospital business news and analysis for hospital and health system executives,” recently selected City of Hope to its 2014 edition of “100 Hospitals and Health Systems With Great Oncology Programs.”
The inclusion on the list likely comes as no surprise to City of Hope patients and their families, but outside recognition of top quality is always welcome. In offering its list, Becker’s Hospital Review includes this important note: “Organizations cannot pay for inclusion on this list.”
That’s an important distinction, one that isn’t always true for many such lists. » Continue Reading
Diagnostic errors are far from uncommon. In fact, a recent study found that they affect about 12 million people, or 1 in 20 patients, in the U.S. each year.
With cancer, those errors in diagnosis can have a profound impact. A missed or delayed diagnosis can make the disease that much harder to treat, as the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research recently noted in calling attention to the diagnostic errors research.
This means that patients who’ve been diagnosed with cancer shouldn’t always assume that either the diagnosis or their options are precisely what they’ve been told. Sometimes a cancer has progressed more than the diagnostic tests suggest; sometimes it’s progressed less. And sometimes the diagnosis is completely off-base.
Clayton S. Lau, M.D., associate clinical professor and an expert in testicular cancer surgery at City of Hope, explains the difference that second opinions can make in getting a proper cancer diagnosis and care. » Continue Reading
Eleven years ago, lymphoma patient Christine Pechera began the long road toward a cancer-free life.
She had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and told by doctors elsewhere that her lifespan likely would be measured in months, not years. Refusing to give up, she came to City of Hope for a second opinion. There, she received her first encouraging words. She began treatment soon after watching the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, an event that she’d watched as a child and that she thought she might never see again.
After undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and an autologous stem cell transplant – a procedure using her own stem cells – Pechera returned to health, only to relapse in 2005.
She can still find the YouTube video pleading for help in the search for a matching bone marrow donor. Because she was Filipino, matches were hard to come by; her search was even featured on “Nightline,” highlighting the need for more diversity among donors. Finally, a man in Hong Kong – who never saw the video or “Nightline” – was identified as a match.
His stem cells – and the expertise of City of Hope’s lymphoma experts – saved Pechera’s life. The journey that began with a poor prognosis at another institution brought her back to the Rose Parade on January 1 of this year. This time, the former lymphoma patient rode on City of Hope’s float, paying tribute to the fact that the dream of being cancer-free can be within reach, even in some of the toughest cases. » Continue Reading
Brain surgery is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage, as well as curiosity and compassion. The truly great surgeons also have a desire to find new, and better ways, of healing the brain. Enter Behnam Badie, M.D., chief of neurosurgery at City of Hope.
Now a pioneer in brain tumor treatment, Badie entered medicine because of encouragement from his father. Healthy at the time, the family patriarch later succumbed to a brain tumor, the type of cancer in which his son now specializes.
Driven in part by that experience, Badie has since gone beyond the operating room. He wanted to help not just today’s patients, but also tomorrow’s patients. Through collaborations with other scientists and other clinicians, he knew he could conduct groundbreaking research that would help both. » Continue Reading
The best measure of success in the fight against cancer is in lives saved and families intact, in extra days made special simply because they exist.
Yuman Fong, M.D., chair of the Department of Surgery at City of Hope, understands what precedes that special awareness. When cancer strikes, one minute a person may feel healthy and young, he says, and in the next, they’re wondering how many years they have left.
In those situations, expertise matters. Commitment to research, knowledge of new therapies, unrelenting dedication to quality and improvement all play a role in the best possible cancer care. City of Hope has those factors. But the best measure of cancer care is cancer outcomes – and City of Hope has those, too.
At 29, Kommah McDowell was a successful young professional engaged to be married to her best friend. She worked in the financial services sector and kick-boxed to keep in shape and to relax. Then came the diagnosis of triple-negative inflammatory breast cancer, a rare and very aggressive form of breast cancer. She was told she had a 5 percent chance of living two years. Here’s her story …
For seven months, McDowell had been visiting her primary care doctor every other week complaining of pain, tenderness, swelling and a lump in her right breast. She was assured it was only a benign cyst that would go away – she was too young to have cancer. Finally, at McDowell’s insistence, the “cyst” was removed. During that surgery, the doctor found cancer.
“Unbelievably, the medical staff was not familiar with the type of cancer,” McDowell said. “They just knew it was cancer and the best course of action was to remove it immediately. Fortunately, I was able to go to City of Hope for a second opinion and treatment.” » Continue Reading
Symbolism is powerful. Just ask any of the City of Hope doctors, nurses or patients who participated in The Baton Pass at City of Hope’s recent Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion.
The Baton Pass is a joint campaign by Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) and Siemens to raise funds for SU2C’s cancer research efforts. It launched March 19 on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and will conclude Sept. 5. In between, the Baton will appear at events across the country.
One of those events was City of Hope’s annual reunion of bone marrow transplant recipients and their families, as well as the doctors and nurses who cared for them.
Watch them stand up to cancer.