For most of her life, Southern California teenager Kayla Saikaly described herself as healthy, even very healthy. She played basketball. She never missed school with as much as a fever. Her worst childhood illness was nothing more than a cold.
Then, when she was 13, her nose started bleeding after a basketball game. That incident, coupled with unexplained bruising on her arms and legs, worried her mother. She took Kayla to a physician. A series of tests ruled out leukemia, but the Cerritos teenager was found to have aplastic anemia.
“It basically means your bone marrow is not producing the blood cells it needs to be producing – red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets,” explained Kayla, now 17. “Once those get thrown off, everything gets thrown off in your whole body. One day I was healthy, and the next, it was like everything was not right in my body.”
Her doctors at Kaiser Permanente considered a bone marrow transplant, but neither Kayla’s mother Samar, father Riad or older brother Alex were a suitable match. So instead Kayla took medications to boost her cell counts. The drugs worked for a year and a half, but then they began to impact her kidneys, ultimately forcing Kayla to stop taking the medications. Eight months later, her blood cell counts began to drop again. Kayla needed a bone marrow transplant. » Continue Reading
Deodorant, plastic bottles, grilled foods, artificial sweeteners, soy products … Do any of these products really cause cancer?
With so many cancer myths and urban legends out there, why not ask the experts? They can debunk cancer myths while sharing cancer facts that matter, such as risk factors, prevention and the research underway at City of Hope.
Join us on April 19 in Lancaster, Calif., to hear from Nimit Sudan, M.D., assistant clinical professor of medical oncology, and Vijay Trisal, M.D., medical director of City of Hope’s community practices and an associate clinical professor of surgical oncology.
Or join us on April 23 in Duarte to hear from physicians and researchers together. Moderator Linda H. Malkas, Ph.D., deputy director of basic research and a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, will lead the discussion. The featured speakers are, in addition to Trisal: James Waisman, M.D., clinical professor in the Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research; James Lacey, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Population Sciences; Joseph Alvarnas, M.D., director of medical quality and associate clinical professor in the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation; and Sofia Wang, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Population Sciences.
Seats are limited to both events, so reserve your seat today by signing up now for the April 19 program in Lancaster or the April 23 program in Duarte. You can also watch both programs live on our YouTube channel. Have a question for our panel? Let us know in the comments.
Cancer risk varies by ethnicity, as does the risk of cancer-related death. But the size of those differences can be surprising, highlighting the health disparities that exist among various ethnic groups in the United States.
Both cancer incidence and death rates for men are highest among African-Americans, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among women, incidence rates are highest among whites, but death rates are highest among African-Americans.
“The causes of cancer health disparities are complex, with root causes stemming from genetic susceptibility, stress and immune function, and family history, as well as health care system factors including preventive care access and utilization, quality care, and diagnostic and therapeutic care delay,” said Kimlin Tam Ashing, Ph.D., director of the Center of Community Alliance for Research & Education (CCARE) at City of Hope.
The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts & Figures 2014 reports that African-Americans and American Indians tend to have more aggressive cancers, more treatment-resistant cancers and lower five-year survival than the general population. » Continue Reading
George Winston, known worldwide for his impressionistic, genre-defying music, considers music to be his first language, and admits he often stumbles over words – especially when he attempts languages other than English.
There’s one German phrase he’s determined to perfect, however: danke schön.
Winston thinks he’ll have it mastered by his first face-to-face meeting with the 20-year-old German woman who donated the bone marrow that saved his life. The two will meet at City of Hope’s Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion, officially called a Celebration of Life, on May 9.
The annual event celebrates the recipients of bone marrow, stem cell and cord blood transplants, and the donors who made the lifesaving procedures possible. It draws thousands of transplant recipients back to City of Hope. As a world leader in hematopoietic cell transplants, City of Hope has conducted almost 12,000 of the procedures.
Wilson’s excitement is almost palpable. So far, he knows only a few things about his donor – she’s a young woman, she’s from Germany, and she saved his life. » Continue Reading
Few decisions are more important than those involving health care, and few decisions can have such lasting impact, not only on oneself but on relatives and loved ones.
Those choices, especially, should be made in advance – carefully, deliberately, free of pain and stress, and with much weighing of values and priorities. That’s the purpose of National Healthcare Decisions Day, to help people make those decisions while they’re still able to do so and then to make their wishes, or directives, known.
The alternative is, ultimately, to force distraught loved ones and well-meaning health care workers to guess at what the incapacitated you would have wanted. They don’t always get it right.
So on Wednesday, April 16, observe National Healthcare Decisions Day by assessing your values, deciding on the kind of care that you want and choosing your own way. That means creating your own advance care directives. » Continue Reading
Using a card game to make decisions about health care, especially as those decisions relate to the end of life, would seem to be a poor idea. It isn’t.
The GoWish Game makes those overwhelming, but all-important decisions not just easy, but natural. On each card of the 36-card deck is listed what seriously ill, even dying, people often say are most important to them.
- To have my family prepared for my death
- To remember personal accomplishments
- To say goodbye to important people in my life
- To maintain my dignity
- To have my family with me
- To know how my body will change
- To prevent arguments by making sure my family knows what I want
- To pray
- To die at home
- To not be connected to machines
- To be mentally aware
Dawn Gross, M.D., Ph.D., the Arthur M. Coppola Family Chair in Supportive Care Medicine at City of Hope, is a fan of the game and, more specifically, the conversations it creates among family members. » Continue Reading
Young adults and adolescents with cancer face unique challenges both during their treatment and afterward. Not only are therapies for children and older adults not always appropriate for them, they also must come to terms with the disease and treatment’s impact on their relationships, finances, school or career, and fertility.
All of these challenges point to the need for more research to improve care and follow-up for this age group. Here, one of those patients – 20-year-old Monica Curiel – shares her experience with lymphoma and also her advice for others in her position.
By Monica Curiel
My story began April 10, 2013. I was diagnosed with lymphoma (stage 2) cancer on that day. The cancer was found after I blacked out in a car accident while driving on the highway.
At first, the doctors could not figure out if I had an infection or if it was cancer. I spent weeks in and out of hospital visits, trying to figure out a diagnosis. After many pokes from needles, biopsies and consultations from teams of oncologists, physicians and various types of specialists, it was concluded I had cancer.
At first, I really did not believe it. I was a 19-year-old freshman at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles. Having grown up in a rural town on the outskirts of Dallas, I was far from home. I was trying to pursue a career and establish friendships, essentially beginning a new chapter in my life, like millions of other 19-year-olds do at this point in their lives.
As the doctors began to explain my type of cancer and the stages, the next steps and treatments, my first thought was: “This is a mistake, other people get cancer, not me…. I am not strong enough for this; strong people can take on the disease. I am too young, I have so much to learn before I can fight cancer, so much to do.” » Continue Reading