Supporting Hope


Bladder cancer patient has a mission: Cure metastatic bladder cancer

March 27, 2015 | by
Frank Di Bella, pictured with Sumanta Kumar Pal, M.D., raised more than $1.6 million for metastatic bladder cancer research led by Pal at City of Hope.

Frank Di Bella (right), pictured with Sumanta Kumar Pal, has already helped raise more than $1.6 million for metastatic bladder cancer research led by Pal at City of Hope.

Frank Di Bella, 70, is on a mission: Find a cure for metastatic bladder cancer.

It’s just possible he might.

Although Di Bella isn’t a world-renowned physician, cancer researcher or scientist, he knows how to make things happen. For more than 20 years, he served as chairman of annual fundraising galas on behalf of muscular dystrophy research, and he’s successfully raised more than $10 million toward that cause.

Now his attention is focused on his own disease: metastatic bladder cancer. The former business consultant recently held a black-tie gala titled “Let’s Be Frank about Cancer” to help raise funds for City of Hope’s bladder cancer research, led by Sumanta Kumar Pal, M.D.

The gala was filled with distinguished leaders, such as Gov. Jerry Brown, and brought in more than $1.6 million for Pal’s research.

But for Di Bella, that’s just the start.

“I’m going to spend the rest of my life raising money to help City of Hope and Dr. Pal,” Di Bella said.

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Garden of Hope: Here, healing takes place indoors and outdoors

January 30, 2015 | by

City of Hope has long known what researchers increasingly are confirming: Gardens and natural surroundings help seriously ill people recover from their treatment ordeals.

Garden of Hope

The Argyros Family Garden of Hope was made possible by the support of the Argyros Family Foundation, led by former U.S. Ambassador to Spain George Argyros and his wife, Julia.

Already a trailblazer in the creation of beautiful natural spaces for cancer patients and their families, on Jan. 15,  City of Hope dedicated the newest in a series of healing landscapes: the Argyros Family Garden of Hope.

Supported by the Argyros Family Foundation – led by former U.S. Ambassador to Spain George Argyros and his wife, Julia – the garden provides a natural space of light, water, trees and native plants designed to encourage emotional, mental and physical healing.

Strategically positioned between City of Hope Helford Clinical Research Hospital, where patients undergo treatment, and Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, where researchers work to find cures, the Argyros Family Garden of Hope provides patients with easily accessible places to walk and to rest – complete with new and mature trees, gurgling fountains and the soothing use of sand and rock – all artfully integrated into an intimate Southern California vignette. » Continue Reading


The profit: $17.35 from handmade bracelets. The donation: Priceless

January 8, 2015 | by
Aurora

Patient Gerald Rustad’s granddaughter Aurora helped raise funds for prostate cancer research by selling homemade bracelets.

Explaining a prostate cancer diagnosis to a young child can be difficult — especially when the cancer is incurable. But conveying the need for prostate cancer research, as it turns out, is easily done. And that leads to action.

Earlier this year, Gerald Rustad, 71, who is living with a very aggressive form of metastatic prostate cancer, found himself trying to explain his heath condition to 10-year-old granddaughter Aurora.

He told her that his cancer couldn’t be cured, but that scientists at City of Hope were busily conducting research so they could help patients like himself. His doctor, for example, Sumanta Pal, M.D., co-director of City of Hope’s Kidney Cancer Program, was working with other City of Hope researchers to develop a drug that could treat metastatic prostate cancer without targeting testosterone.

The targeting of testosterone is too arcane for most 10-year-olds, but the need for scientific answers isn’t. Aurora asked if there were any way she could help. » Continue Reading


Walk for Hope: Thousands come together to help cure women’s cancers

November 2, 2014 | by
Walk for Hope

Nearly 8,000 people walk to help end women’s cancers at the 18th annual Walk for Hope. (Photo by Dominique Grignetti)

Thousands gathered at City of Hope on Sunday, Nov. 2, to participate in the 18th annual Walk for Hope, a unique event that raises money for, and awareness of, women’s cancers.

Together participants cheered, supported, honored and commemorated those who have been affected by breast and gynecologic cancers. With more than 600 survivors in attendance, the impact of City of Hope’s research and care was evident to all.

Walk for Hope is the only walk series that benefits research, treatment and education programs for all cancers unique to women, and all funds raised support City of Hope’s Women’s Cancers Program.

Most special about the walk is that it celebrates the collaboration between researchers, patients and the community to end women’s cancers. Further, it’s the only walk held on the grounds of an institution where the research occurs and where the care is delivered. Participants not only walked by buildings where the breakthroughs of tomorrow will be discovered, they walked by City of Hope Helford Clinical Research Hospital, waving to (and receiving waves from) patients watching from the windows.

“City of Hope’s specialized treatment of cancer, greater understanding of the causes of cancer and the research into survivorship after cancer have all been made possible by your support,” said Alexandra Levine, M.D., M.A.C.P., chief medical officer at City of Hope,  addressing the crowd. “You help us with our research, and our research helps the world.”

Beverly Austin, a 16-year breast  cancer survivor, shared her story during the opening ceremony, highlighting the community’s support and City of Hope’s care. “Because of people like you, I’m here today,” she said.

And because of people like Austin, every year, City of Hope hosts Walk for Hope so that we can one day live in a world without women’s cancers.

Team name: Fight Like Mami Chela at City of Hope's Walk for Hope

The “Fight Like Mami Chela” team joins thousands of other Walk for Hope participants to help find cures for women’s cancers.  (Photo by Dominique Grignetti)

Walk for Hope

Breast cancer patient Becky Stokes, shown here at the 18th annual Walk for Hope, celebrates a milestone. (Photo by Dominique Grignetti)


For low-risk prostate cancer, he chose ‘active surveillance’

March 6, 2014 | by

When Ralph Richardson discovered that his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) reading was a 6, he told his primary care physician that he wanted to go to City of Hope. “I felt I was better off in a City of Hope environment, where it’s a cancer treatment specialty hospital. This is what they do,” Richardson said.

At City of Hope, Richardson met with Jonathan Yamzon, M.D., clinical professor in the Prostate Cancer Program. “After Ralph’s biopsy revealed prostate cancer, we discussed the parameters used to stratify his risk of disease progression, and he fell into the ‘low-risk’ category. With that, we discussed his options, including treatment with robotic-assisted surgery or radiation therapy, versus active surveillance. Since his cancer risk was low, I recommended active surveillance as the most appropriate treatment,” Yamzon said.

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Brain tumor research: 3 foundations back neural stem cell work

February 18, 2014 | by




Despite gradual improvements over the years, brain tumors remain particularly tricky to treat. Treatment can affect normal brain tissue, which can cause physical and cognitive impairment. One particularly challenging obstacle is the blood-brain barrier, which prevents cancer drugs from passing into the brain and attacking the tumor. Gutova is an assistant research professor of neurosciences . She may have found a way to get through that barrier — using neural stem cells.

But Margarita Gutova, M.D., assistant research professor in the laboratory of Karen Aboody, M.D., professor in the Department of Neurosciences and the Division of Neurosurgery, in collaboration with Robert Wechsler-Reya, Ph.D., director of the tumor initiation and maintenance program at Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute, may have found a way to bypass this barrier using neural stem cells — self-renewing cells that can later differentiate into neurons and other nervous system cells.

“Neural stem cells offer a novel way to overcome this obstacle because they can cross the blood-brain barrier and selectively target tumor cells throughout the brain,” Gutova said.

In this visualization, neural stem cells (red) are gathering around the brain tumor cells (green), showing its potential to selectively deliver treatment at the tumor site.

In this visualization, neural stem cells (red) gather around the brain tumor cells (green), showing the potential to selectively deliver treatment at the tumor site.

In the video above, Gutova explained how this ability can be harnessed to help treat brain tumors. Used as a delivery vehicle, neural stem cells can be engineered to target and deliver anti-cancer agents specifically to brain tumor sites. This method results in concentrated therapy at the tumor sites, while minimizing harm to surrounding normal tissue.

Additionally, Gutova is investigating whether the neural stem cells can be delivered intranasally, or through the nostrils and nasal cavity. This novel delivery method, if proven effective, is much less invasive, and could reduce the number of complicated procedures — and their associated risks — that these young patients must often endure. » Continue Reading


Lymphoma changed Emmet and Toni Stephenson; now they want to change it

February 12, 2014 | by

During their 46-year marriage – an attraction begun as kindergarten sweethearts – entrepreneurs Emmet and Toni Stephenson have worked together to build diverse businesses ranging from portfolio management to Internet publishing. When Toni was diagnosed with T cell lymphoma last spring, the couple refocused their energies into restoring her health.

Stephensons

Emmet and Toni Stephenson with their daughter Tessa Stephenson Brand

“Cancer became the center of our life,” Emmet said. “Our priorities really got changed and turned upside down almost instantly.”

“It did change us,” Toni said. “It was quite a summer.”

Toni is currently in remission following treatment at City of Hope, and the couple and their only child, Tessa Stephenson Brand, recently gave City of Hope $10 million to create the Toni Stephenson Lymphoma Center. That center is the cornerstone of City of Hope’s new Hematologic Malignancies Institute. 

Here, the couple shares their life-changing experience – and how it led them to where they are today: trying to change the future for other people with lymphoma.  » Continue Reading


‘Ask the Experts: HPV and Links to Cancer': What you need to know

February 11, 2014 | by

What is HPV? How is it linked to cancer? How can I prevent it? Those are some of the questions many women have about human papillomavirus, or HPV. City of Hope physicians will provide the answers at our Feb. 20 “Ask the Experts” presentation.

Mark Wakabayahsi of City of Hope

Mark Wakabayashi, chief of gynecologic oncology at City of Hope, will discuss the HPV vaccine and links to cervical cancer.

The session, titled “HPV and Links to Cancer,” will feature three City of Hope experts. 

Mark Wakabayashi, M.D., M.P.H., associate clinical professor and chief of gynecologic oncology, will focus on the virus’ connection to cervical cancer and on the HPV vaccine, which can help prevent the disease.

Ellie Maghami, M.D., associate clinical professor and chief of head and neck surgery, will discuss oropharyngeal cancer (throat cancer), the changing patient profile of the disease and HPV awareness.

And Lily Lai, M.D., associate clinical professor, will talk about HPV and its connection to anal cancer. 

Here, our experts offer a preview of the session. » Continue Reading


T cell research for prostate cancer gets boost from $1 million gift

February 4, 2014 | by

Although prostate cancer is often highly treatable, the prognosis for men with metastatic disease remains grim. According to the American Cancer Society, men with distant prostate cancer metastases have a five-year survival rate of 28 percent, and almost 30,000 men die from the disease each year in the United States.

A $1 million challenge award from Movember and Prostate Cancer Foundation will fuel City of Hope's T-cell research to treat prostate cancer.

A $1 million challenge award from Movember and Prostate Cancer Foundation will fuel City of Hope’s T cell research to treat prostate cancer.

Researchers hope to turn that tide by using two novel agents developed at City of Hope that will attack cancerous cells with the patient’s own immune system. And thanks to a $1 million Movember-Prostate Cancer Foundation Challenge Award, this immunotherapy project can continue its preclinical progress for the next two years, with in-human trials beginning in early 2016.

Prior research at City of Hope and other institutions found that numerous cancer cells — including those of prostate cancer — activate a protein called STAT3 to evade the immune system and to promote their own growth and spread. In one arm of the new project, Marcin Kortylewski, Ph.D., assistant professor at City of Hope’s Department of Cancer Immunotherapeutics and Tumor Immunology, will be designing a unique agent — a nucleotide-based drug that delivers a small, interfering RNA called CpG-STAT3 — to inhibit STAT3 activity, thus stripping the cancer’s ability to grow and dodge the immune system, while simultaneously bolstering the patient’s own anti-tumor immunity. » Continue Reading


Cancer and cuisine: Tips for leading a healthier life

January 31, 2014 | by

City of Hope recently hosted two free Ask the Experts events, titled “Cancer and Cuisine,” focusing on the benefits of healthy eating, physical activity and weight management, as well as easy-to-make healthy recipes.

Here are some quick tips from both programs:

  • Select a rainbow of fruits and vegetables for nutrient diversity.
  • Do not focus on single nutrients, because the nutrients in food work together to create health and fight off disease.
  • Dark, leafy green vegetables are the most nutrient-rich food on the planet.
  • Exercise regularly, and try to exercise three to four hours a week.
  • Watch your weight.

The first Ask the Experts event was held at the newly opened City of Hope | Antelope Valley practice. The video above features Vijay Trisal, M.D., medical director of community practices for the City of Hope Medical Foundation, and guest speaker, Katja Wargin, certified holistic health counselor.

Wargin prepared a healthy and easy-to-make green smoothie: » Continue Reading