Rose Parade float: John Cloer – healthy at 12 and inspiring

December 5, 2013 | by   
John Cloer shares his new smile. Photo credit: Cloer family

John Cloer shares his new smile. Photo credit: Cloer family

For those who have battled cancer, each tomorrow is, in reality, a dream come true. On Jan. 1,  former City of Hope patients will see another dream come true: They’ll be riding atop City of Hope’s float in the 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade.

The theme of this year’s float is “Turning Hope and Dreams into Reality”; the theme of the parade is “Dreams Come True.” Here is the story of one rider: John Cloer.




My name is John Cloer and I’m a healthy 12-year-old, but a long time ago I had cancer. Just before my third birthday I didn’t feel well. I was tired and pale and I kept telling my mom my stomach and my legs hurt. My mom thought I had the flu since it was winter, but when I wouldn’t even eat a piece of candy, we went to the doctor. The doctor saw that I had a lot of bruising and she ordered lab work and sent us home. A few hours later the doctor called to tell my mom I had leukemia and needed to go to City of Hope that day.

When we got there the doctors talked to my parents and gave me some toy cars to play with. Soon after, they needed to set up an IV to give me medicine and I was really scared and upset about the needles. I didn’t understand everything that was happening to me at the time, but I had to have blood transfusions and chemotherapy right away. They also had to do bone marrow aspirations so they took me to a place I called the “wiggly room” because I felt strange when I woke up after the procedures. I wasn’t afraid of the wiggly room because everyone was really nice and there was a toy and a snack for me after. The nurses let my mom and my 3-month-old brother stay with me in the hospital. I didn’t realize then we wouldn’t go home for 10 days.

Three months after my first stay in the hospital I woke up one morning with my neck so swollen I couldn’t move it. We rushed to City of Hope for another long stay while they helped my body fight off a serious infection. The nurses would let me use syringes for “water gun” fights and try to lift my spirits with visits to the play room. When my counts were good my doctor would even let me go to the playground at City of Hope and feed the fish in the Japanese garden. A week later, I was happy to go home to my brother and my sister, who was in high school at the time.

Several months into my treatment my hair started falling out. It came out in patches all over our house. Soon I was completely bald, but my baby brother was too so it seemed sort of normal.

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Dr. Stephen Forman: Bone marrow compensation issue misses point

December 4, 2013 | by   

Bone marrow transplantation is a complex procedure used to treat blood and bone cancers and other life-threatening diseases, and it’s now saving more lives than ever. But it can’t save everyone. Suitable bone marrow matches simply can’t be found for enough people.

Some say that allowing donors to be financially compensated for bone marrow could solve this problem. And in fact, two years ago, a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling backed such compensation, defining bone marrow as an organ and allowing donors to receive financial benefits for bone marrow just as they can receive compensation for blood and other organs.

That ruling changed a decades-old ban as it pertained to blood marrow donations and was widely cheered as a landmark, one that would lead more people to donate bone marrow and thus save the lives of men, women and children across the country.

Now the federal Department of Health and Human Services has proposed a rule that would once again bar bone marrow donors from being compensated. The department is arguing that “altruistic donations” reduce the risk that people with contagious disease will donate tissue for financial gain.

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Why HPV vaccination is low among U.S. adolescents

December 3, 2013 | by   

Although the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006, vaccination rates among U.S. adolescents remain low.

Despite its demonstrated safety and efficacy, many U.S. youths are still not vaccinated against HPV. Researchers examine some reasons why in a JAMA Pediatrics article

Many U.S. youths are still not vaccinated against HPV despite the recommendations of the CDC. Researchers examine some reasons why in a JAMA Pediatrics article.

In a review article published online in JAMA Pediatrics on Nov. 25, researchers reported that 34.8 percent of girls 13 to 17 had completed the three-cycle series of HPV vaccines and that only 8.3 percent of boys in the same age range had even initiated it. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended the vaccine for all girls and young women ages 11 through 26 — as well as all boys and young men ages 11 through 21.

The authors examined 55 studies to determine barriers to adolescents getting, and completing, their HPV immunization shot cycle. Recurring barriers that they found in these studies include: » Continue Reading

How to give back: Save a life – donate blood or platelets

December 3, 2013 | by   

The second in a series about how to give, and give back, during the holiday season ...

This time of year brings holiday cheer to many people across the nation, but for hospitals and blood donor centers, such as City of Hope’s Michael Amini Transfusion Medicine Center, it’s the start of a tough season.

Blood donation

For a gift with ultimate impact, give life. Donate blood or platelets. They’re especially needed during the holidays.

Not only do people take breaks from school and work during the holidays, many also take a break from donating blood and platelets to hospitals. Blood and platelets donations are needed year-round, said Kasie Uyeno, City of Hope’s blood donor recruitment manager, but they’re especially critical during the holiday season.

“The need for blood does not take a holiday,” Uyeno said. “It’s always there.”

Patients at City of Hope rely on more than 37,000 units of blood and platelets each year for their survival.

Currently, the Amini Center brings in about 22,300 units of blood and platelets yearly— which is not nearly enough to meet the hospital’s needs.

“The need is always higher than what we have,” Uyeno said.

During the months of November and December, the need is even higher because during those months, blood and platelet donations drop around 25 percent, she said. » Continue Reading

‘My cancer diagnosis’ – Carol Duran on parenting during cancer

December 2, 2013 | by   

Carol Duran was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in 2008. “The first thought was, ‘I’m going to lose my life, and leave my kids without a mom,’” Duran recently recalled.

Former breast cancer patient Carol Duran

Even during treatment for breast cancer, Carol Duran tried to maintain a sense of normalcy. Do the things you love, she advises. Duran is shown here with husband Jaime and sons Julian (left) and James. Photo courtesy of Carol Duran.

The Alhambra, Calif., resident received much of her treatment as an outpatient at City of Hope, returning home most nights to her children. “It was nice to be able to come home even though I wasn’t feeling that great. At least my boys could climb into my bed or I could sit on the floor and play with them or read to them. I was with them a lot, which was important to me.  In case something happened, I wanted them to remember me.”

Today, Duran is healthy, back to work, and sharing new parenting adventures with her husband, Jaime.

We recently asked Duran to look back at the time of her diagnosis and ask herself, what do you know now that you wish you’d known then? What wisdom, soothing words or practical tips would you give your newly diagnosed self?  In a previous article, she reflected on how cancer patients can improve their care and their personal health.

Here, she offers guidance on parenting, relationships and daily life.  

Tell your children what they need to know. Because they were only 3, my boys only knew that I was sick, but didn’t understand what I was going through. I was bald and afraid of scaring them, but they just saw me as Mom. They just thought, “She changed her hairdo; she’s wearing a scarf.” Through the years, they have asked more questions. One of my sons is more intuitive, and when I go for follow-up appointments, he’ll ask, “You’re fine, right? The cancer didn’t come back, did it?” They have seen me do interviews for City of Hope and know about cancer and that people can die from it. I never wanted City of Hope to be a scary place for them and it hasn’t been. Children often get their cues on how to react by seeing how their parents handle situations. They weren’t scared because they saw me enjoying myself. » Continue Reading

Rose Parade float: Julie Campoy on becoming the princess of hope

December 1, 2013 | by   
Julie Campoy celebrating her birthday. Photo credit: Julie Campoy

Julie Campoy celebrating her birthday. Photo credit: Julie Campoy

For those who have battled cancer, each tomorrow is, in reality, a dream come true. On Jan. 1,  former City of Hope patients will see another dream come true: They’ll be riding atop City of Hope’s float in the 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade.

The theme of this year’s float is “Turning Hope and Dreams into Reality”; the theme of the parade is “Dreams Come True.” Here is the story of one rider: Julie Campoy

I was already well familiar with City of Hope long before I was diagnosed with breast cancer.My mom had also been a breast cancer patient at City of Hope for many years, and after she passed away my sisters and I hosted a fundraiser to set up a scholarship in her name to honor oncology nurses and to assist with their continuing education in that field. The day after the fundraiser, Dr. Stephen Forman called me … I could tell by the tone of his voice that it was not a social call. Indeed, my recent mammogram looked “suspicious”… and we went from there. » Continue Reading

Generic drug or brand-name drug? The answer can be complex

December 1, 2013 | by   

Brand-name drugs are more expensive than generic drugs, that much is clear. What’s also clear, finds the independent, nonprofit newsroom ProPublica, is that a small percentage of doctors nationwide are prescribing what seems to be more than their share of the pricey versions – and Medicare is footing the bill.

Prescription drugs

Choosing between a generic drug and brand-name drug can be complex.

“Just 913 internists, family medicine and general practice physicians cost taxpayers an extra $300 million in 2011 alone by disproportionately choosing name-brand drugs,” read the story “Medicare’s Failure to Track Doctors Wastes Billions on Name-Brand Drugs.” “These doctors each wrote at least 5,000 prescriptions that year, including refills, and ranked among the program’s most prolific prescribers.”

California doctors were among the top prescribers of such drugs, the Los Angeles Daily News points out. “Almost 65 million Medicare Part D claims totalling $7.5 billion were filed by internal medicine, family medicine and general practice physicians from the Golden State for their patients,” the newspaper reported.

Such headlines beg the question: Why would doctors prescribe more expensive drugs when clearly cheaper alternatives are available? The answer can be complex, as Cy A. Stein, M.D., Ph.D., the Arthur & Rosalie Kaplan Chair in Medical Oncology at City of Hope, explains. » Continue Reading

Rose Parade float: A dream come true – even for volunteers

November 29, 2013 | by   
City of Hope's 2014 Rose Parade Float entry is themed "Turning Hope & Dreams into Reality". Photo credit: Phoenix Decorating

City of Hope’s 2014 Rose Parade Float entry is themed “Turning Hope & Dreams into Reality.” Photo credit: Phoenix Decorating

Even people not treated at City of Hope feel a connection to us and to our float in the Tournament of Roses Parade. This soon-to-be float decorator from Colorado writes:

“My parents went to the Rose Bowl parade years ago before they had children – over 53 years. It made such an impression on them and for years I heard them talk about how wonderful it smelled and how beautiful the floats were. It created in me a desire to go – ‘someday.’  So, as I am now 50 and have children of my own, I have for the past 20 years gathered my family together to watch the parade  as one of our must do holiday traditions. Every year they hear me say, ‘Someday, we will go. Ohhh, I want to go!”

Well, in January 2011, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Stage 3. Thankfully, God allowed the treatment to work and I am nearly two years treatment-free.  In January 2013, some friends offered to have our family stay with them at their beach house, so we have planned our trip around the time to get to attend the Rose Bowl parade and fulfill a dream for me at the same time. So here we come from Colorado!

The theme this year is especially meaningful to us for so many reasons and we knew we wanted to work on your float more than any other.

Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to continue making memories through your efforts in cancer research and to work on your float as a family. It is a privilege to get to see Dreams Come True.

Blessings to you,


To make your own float-decorating dreams come true, visit our Rose Parade float site and sign up. It’s that easy.

You can also support the dreams of our float riders – all former cancer patients treated at City of Hope – by making a donation to support the float construction itself. And please, share your own story, dream or City of Hope connection below.



City of Hope | Antelope Valley: World-class cancer care, locally (w/VIDEO)

November 29, 2013 | by   

City of Hope | Antelope Valley officially opened the doors of its new clinic Nov. 18, expanding patient access to the state-of-the-art technology and top-level care for which City of Hope is known. Now, even fewer patients will have to endure a long drive to be treated by City of Hope physicians.

“We cannot sit in Duarte and expect everyone to come to the main campus for care,” said Vijay Trisal, M.D., medical director of City of Hope’s community practices in the video above. “We have to take oncology care out . . . so that everybody knows there is a cancer center here and that world-class care can be delivered right here in the community.”

City of Hope has long had a clinic in Antelope Valley, but the new two-story facility dramatically expands the offerings. It can provide cancer patients with a complete range of diagnostic and treatment services, with spaces for screening, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. The building also houses office space for physicians and support staff, a conference center and a 172-seat auditorium.

Trisal also talked about the expertise available at City of Hope | Antelope Valley, such as surgeons who are experienced in minimally invasive, robotically assisted procedures. Further, patients there can also enroll in clinical trials for promising new therapies.

“City of Hope is proud to provide access to our uniquely compassionate, patient-centered care within the community of Lancaster and Antelope Valley,” said City of Hope President Robert Stone in a press release. “With more people than ever impacted by cancer, both patients and their families will benefit from receiving high-quality treatment close to home.”

In the videos below, several staff members and patients shared their thoughts on the impact of City of Hope | Antelope Valley’s opening.

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Inspired by nurse, young cancer survivor now studies nursing

November 28, 2013 | by   

Cancer survivors often say they’re thankful – for a second chance, for more time with their families, for lessons learned. But sometimes that thankfulness focuses on a specific person. For cancer survivor Hannah Komai, that person is pediatric oncology nurse Molly Lambert.

Nurse Molly Lambert. Photo credit: City of Hope

Pediatric oncology nurse Molly Lambert encouraged, and inspired, a young City of Hope patient fighting osteosarcoma. Photo credit: City of Hope

Hannah Komai came to City of Hope in 2010 at the age of 20 with osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer most often diagnosed in teenagers.

Her normal life, as she says, “was put on pause.” Instead of entering Pacific Lutheran College on a scholarship, she would be spending her summer – and foreseeable future – undergoing difficult and intense treatment to save her life.

Komai endured 15 weeks of intense chemotherapy as well as surgery to remove six inches of her right femur, knee and a tibia and replace them with stainless steel. After months, Komai finally went into remission. Then came the grueling physical therapy. She spent her 21st birthday learning how to use a walker.

During her treatment and recovery, Komai found support and strength in Lambert, a nurse very close to her own age. Lambert would come spend time with Komai at the end of her day, making tough moments less lonely and tough days more bearable.

Lambert is the primary inspiration behind Komai’s decision to enroll in nursing school to become a pediatric oncology nurse herself.  For Lambert, the bond is mutual.


As written by Hannah Komai

Cancer survivor Hannah Komai

Hannah Komai underwent treatment for osteosarcoma at City of Hope. The treatment, and the recovery, were grueling, but nurse Molly Lambert was there to help. Komai hasn’t forgotten. Photo credit: City of Hope

Molly has been a great person to look up to throughout my journey. She not only inspired me to continue on while I was in treatment, but continues to do so while going through nursing school.

I find that we have similar personalities, and I can really see a part of me in her. I hope to one day be as amazing a nurse as she is. She would fight to be able to take care of me when I was in the hospital. If she didn’t get to take care of me, she always was sure to stop in and spend some time with me.

It was nice having a relationship with someone of a similar age as me. She really understood what I was missing out on, but was able to guide me to stay positive.

I will never forget, it was during a time when I was truly struggling. It was in the middle of treatment, and just felt like it was never-ending. I was having a day of tears, and losing all hope. She came in, and just chatted with me. I can’t recall exactly our exchange in words, but I always knew I could just cry to her if I needed.

When I think about the kind of nurse I want to be, I picture Molly. I want to have her upbeat personality. I want to have relationships with not only the patients, but with their families as well.


As written by Molly Lambert

I have lots of patient stories, but Hannah is very special to me.

Hannah came to us as a teenager and needed a lot of encouragement as she was physically changing. She was losing her hair, having side effects from steroids and getting used to a new scar on her leg. She had difficulty and pain doing the things she would normally do. She was trying to be independent and grow as a teenage girl when she received a diagnosis where you get little choice.

I tried to encourage her as the beautiful girl that she is, spent lots of time with her giving her education about her treatment, listening to her stories, and giving her as many choices as possible. I would draw her pictures to describe her treatment and would have other members of our team (like the pharmacist) come in to do mini lectures for her. She loved to learn and I loved to teach her.

She has a heart of gold and is going to make an amazing nurse someday.