Rose Parade float: Ben Teller’s dreams can now become reality

December 30, 2013 | by

Lymphoma survivor Ben Teller learned that as an inpatient, you should never hesitate to seek your nurses' help. (Photo credit: Courtesy of Ben Teller)

Ben Teller's dreams were made possible through a lifesaving stem cell transplant. His dream to meet the stem cell donor who saved him will come true at the Rose Parade. (Photo credit: Courtesy of Ben Teller)

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: Ben Teller, who will meet the person who saved his life on New Year's Day.

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Dreams – when one is a child – often get taken for granted. They are often bedtime stories parents tell their children in a land where anything is possible. That’s who I was pre-cancer, young, naive and full of dreams of college, friends, exciting careers and independence. That all changed in 2007, when I wasn’t able to attend college with my peers; then again in 2010, when we were first introduced to City of Hope.

They saved my life through three reoccurrences until I was proclaimed cancer free on April 29 of this 2014 year.

When I relapsed in 2010 from Hodgkin’s lymphoma, I needed a stem cell transplant, which required me to find a new doctor and a new hospital. I happen to live in the vicinity of many fine hospitals, so I had plenty of choices. My family and I visited and explored many of these hospitals and nothing compared to our experience upon entering City of Hope. By the time we walked through the doors of City of Hope, we were exhausted, drowning in an emotional vacuum of doubt. But from the moment I entered the doors of City of Hope, I felt like a person again.

Certainly, as I sat with my doctor (Stephen Forman) and we discussed my diagnosis, cancer treatments and lots of other scary stuff, I felt overwhelmed. But, somehow he made cancer feel like the smallest part of the conversation and our relationship. Somehow, after one meeting with my City of Hope treatment team, I felt like they knew more about me–- the person and what I cared about and hoped for – than I would have thought possible.

They not only looked after the difficult task of healing my cancer, they looked after the parts of me that needed to be tended to – in the here and now – to allow the real healing to begin. Parts of me like my spirit, my sense of humor, my interests, my hopes and my desires. All these necessary components that make me who I am, which DID need to be known to help me get through the actual treatment of cancer so I could feel like a life after cancer was possible.

Cancer is an insidious evil. Not only does it attempt to ravage our bodies, it would, if it could, take one's self worth, dignity, spirit, dreams, desires and personhood.

My dignity and self worth were safe in the hands of my City of Hope team.

So, what’s possible now? Everything!

I want to be a person that continues to give back and supports awareness around young adult cancer. I want to be an on-air sports announcer. I want a wife. I want to play sports with my children.

I dream. I hope. I dream. I hope.

To be asked to ride and represent City of Hope this Rose Parade day means I get to say thank you to City of Hope one more time. I would do anything and everything for City of Hope. They continue to carry the hope that is making it possible for my dreams to become a reality.

Learn more about City of Hope's Rose Parade float »