Rose Parade float: Hannah Komai dreamed to be called a ‘survivor’

November 26, 2013 | by

Cancer survivor Hannah Komai

Hannah Komai underwent treatment for osteosarcoma at City of Hope. Photo credit: City of Hope

For those who have battled cancer, each tomorrow is, in reality, a dream come true. On Jan. 1, 2014, former City of Hope patients treated at City of Hope 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: Hannah Komai.

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My name is Hannah Komai. I am a 23-year-old college student pursuing a degree in nursing. I am in my first year at Mount St. Mary’s College. I am learning to balance the stress of school and attempting to maintain a normal social life.

In June of 2010, I received word that I would have to begin fighting for my life. I felt like my world of strength and independence began to crumble right in front of my eyes. I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a childhood bone cancer that was localized in the distal end of my right femur. I would have to undergo 15 weeks of rigorous chemotherapy, an attempt to kill my tumor as much as possible; a major surgery to remove my tumor and the surrounding areas and finish up with eight more months of intense chemotherapy. The hardest of all was giving up my independence and allowing family members to help dress and bathe me.

Due to the nature of the chemotherapy, I was an inpatient for all of my chemotherapy sessions. This meant that City of Hope became my home for the 11 months that I was treated and I’m beyond thankful for that. Everyone at City of Hope became family. The staff made the extra effort to get to know not only me, but my family, too. I have built relationships with patients, nurses, doctors and supportive care team members. Those relationships are what carried me through treatment and gave me the strength to continue to fight.

It is a dream come true to have been asked to ride on City of Hope’s Rose Parade float. I was asked to ride on the float while I was undergoing treatment, but because I was scheduled to be an inpatient on Parade Day, I had to turn down the offer.

Riding on the float this year truly signifies my dream of referring to myself as a “survivor.” I have been officially cancer-free since October 2010 and finished treatment in June of 2011. I dream of one day becoming a nurse and working in pediatrics at City of Hope. Each and every day I am one step closer to having this dream come true.

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