Posts tagged ‘cancer’


Inspiring Stories: To family of son with leukemia, every day is a gift

December 3, 2014 | by

On Jan. 1, 2015, six City of Hope patients who have journeyed through cancer will welcome the new year with their loved ones atop City of Hope’s Tournament of Roses Parade float. The theme of the float is “Made Possible by HOPE.” The theme of the parade is “Inspiring Stories.”

The Wolfrank family will ride the float the same way they fought son Gavin’s leukemia together. 

By Diana and Ken Wolfrank

We see every day as a gift. Our family has endured a number of challenges in the past eight years but today … is a good day.

With cancer behind him, Gavin's story has just begun. (Photo courtesy of the Wolfrank family)

With leukemia behind him, Gavin’s story has just begun. (Photo courtesy of the Wolfrank family)

Our son, Gavin, was 7 months old when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). He endured  3 ½ years of various chemotherapy treatments, just to have the disease return. We were told his only chance of survival was a bone marrow transplant. We were lucky to find our donor, Catherine “Cat” Benson, who saved not only our son but our family. She was our only hope. After eight rounds of radiation in four days and a dozen meds, Gavin was ready to receive Cat’s bone marrow.

It’s tough to sit in a room day after day where children are hooked up to IV pumps, enduring so much. Families spend lots of time sharing stories and good luck prayers. Over the years, we’ve known many families who have lost loved ones. We spent 95 days at City of Hope praying that our son would survive and be able to come home and be a happy and “normal” kid. After three trying months, Gavin was able to come home, but not without a long road still ahead of him.

City of Hope is just what the name says it is. It’s a small city full of hope for all patients and families who walk through their doors. The doctors and nurses do so much to make miracles happen. We feel very blessed to have been able to walk out of there with hope in our future.

It has been four years since Gavin’s transplant and, thanks to all the efforts of everyone at City of Hope, our life today is filled with laughter, happiness, determination, appreciation and love.

We are inspired daily as we watch Gavin be a kid and enjoy all the things children should be able to enjoy. We know that City of Hope is working hard to save lives and we are eternally grateful for what they have done for us and continue to do for many others.

The opportunity to ride on the City of Hope float means more to our family than anyone can imagine. We will ride on that float and remember all the ones who lost their battle and show support for all those who continue to fight. Our life truly is made possible by City of Hope and our family will never forget that.

Rose Parade Photo Day with young leukemia survivor Gavin Wolfrank and his family

The Wolfrank family (parents Diana and Ken with kids Gavin and Emma) helped kick off City of Hope’s Rose Parade float entry at the Tournament’s recent photo day. It’s been four years since Gavin battled leukemia and received a lifesaving bone marrow transplant at City of Hope.

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Read more about City of Hope’s Rose Parade float.

Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). City of Hope staff will explain what’s required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.


Holiday shopping tips: 10 do’s/don’ts for a friend with cancer

December 2, 2014 | by
friend with cancer, holiday shopping list

When shopping for a friend facing cancer, keep a few things in mind.

You’ve done the easy stuff – braved the toy store and the Black Friday frenzy, stayed up all night trolling deals online, picked up gift cards for your colleagues at work. There’s just one gift left, the one you’ve been putting off and the one that means so much. What do you give your friend who is in the fight of her life – fighting cancer?

By now, she probably has more slippers and fuzzy blankets than she needs. Whether she’s at home or in the hospital, here are some holiday shopping tips to get you started: » Continue Reading


Thanksgiving food safety tips for all (especially cancer patients)

November 26, 2014 | by
food safety tips

Food preparation is a big responsibility. Thanksgiving food preparation is an even bigger responsibility, especially if one of your guests is a cancer patient.

Preparing a Thanksgiving meal is a huge responsibility, not just in terms of taste and presentation, but also in terms of food safety. Special care must be taken when handling, assembling and cooking the feast  – and this is never more true than when your guests will include immunosuppressed patients, such as cancer patients currently in treatment.

For them, illnesses can be longer and more debilitating, possibly resulting in hospitalization. Their bodies simply can’t clear infection as easily as other people’s bodies. Here are some Thanksgiving food safety tips from City of Hope dietitians to help you shop, and prepare, carefully. » Continue Reading


Made in City of Hope: T cells – enlisting the immune system to beat cancer

November 21, 2014 | by

The body’s immune system is usually adept at attacking outside invaders such as bacteria and viruses. But because cancer originates from the body’s own cells, the immune system can fail to see it as foreign. As a result, the body’s most powerful ally can remain largely idle against cancer as the disease progresses. Immunotherapy in general seeks to spur the immune system to action, helping the body fight cancer. One type of immunotherapy —T cell therapy — reprograms immune cells known as T cells to recognize and destroy cancer cells.

Stephen Forman

Stephen J. Forman, the head of City of Hope’s bone marrow transplant program, is leading a wave of T cell clinical trials, all of which are moving the treatment out of the lab and directly to patients.

A wave of clinical trials

Normally, T cells attack bacteria and other infectious agents. In T cell therapy, T cells are isolated from a sample of the patient’s blood, then genetically engineered to seek out and attack a specific cancer. Researchers grow millions of these engineered T cells in the laboratory. The engineered cells are reinfused into the patient, where they go to work eliminating cancer.

Stephen J. Forman, M.D., the Francis & Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation, has long pursued breakthrough treatments for hematologic cancers and blood-related disorders, and heads up City of Hope’s bone marrow transplant program. Under his direction, a wave of T cell clinical trials is underway, all of which are moving the treatment out of the lab and directly to patients. » Continue Reading


Thinking about e-cigs for the Great American Smokeout? Think again

November 20, 2014 | by

Are you thinking about switching from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes for the Great American Smokeout? Are you thinking that might be a better option than the traditional quit-smoking route? Think again.

For lung expert Brian Tiep, M.D., the dislike and distrust he feels for e-cigs comes down to this: The public has been burned by tobacco companies before.

ecig electronic cigarette

With no labeling required for e-cigs, the consumer doesn’t know for sure what’s in the products.

The same companies that claimed cigarettes were safe, he says, now claim that electronic cigarettes – which aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration – are safe.

“I was opened-minded initially,” said Tiep, a physician in pulmonary and critical care medicine at City of Hope. “Then the tobacco companies started buying out the e-cigarette companies. These products have no regulations whatsoever right now. You’re trusting them to do the right thing by you. They claimed tobacco was safe, and it turned out not to be.”

As for tobacco cigarettes, a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association tied smoking among U.S. adults to 14 million health conditions. Further, a U.S. District Court judge who in 2006 found tobacco companies guilty of lying to the public about the dangers of smoking, ordered the companies to admit their wrongdoing. The judge ruled they defrauded the public in five key ways: lying about the health damage caused by smoking, lying about the addictive nature of nicotine, marketing “low tar” and “light” cigarettes as healthier with no evidence that they are, deliberately making their products as addictive as possible and hiding the dangers of secondhand smoke. » Continue Reading


Couples and cancer: 10 tips for better communication

November 15, 2014 | by

Cancer is a couple’s disease. It affects not just the person diagnosed, but his or her partner as well. It also affects the ability of both people to communicate effectively.

Couples and cancer: Tips for coping

Cancer affects not just the person but his or her partner, too. City of Hope helps couples overcome their communication problems and work together during cancer treatment.

The Couples Coping with Cancer Together program at City of Hope teaches couples how to communicate and solve problems as a unit. Here are some practical behavior tips from that program:

Advice for the nonpatient:

•    Actively encourage the sharing of emotional concerns and fears.
•    Be open to her expression of concerns as often as she needs.
•    Listen to her concerns without trying to “fix,” minimize or give advice (unless asked).
•    Be physically present at all medical appointments, even when not asked.
•    Talk with the breast cancer patient about how the illness is impacting you. » Continue Reading


SupportScreen app reaches 10,000 patients

November 6, 2014 | by
SupportScreen

Talking about their cancer and their needs can be difficult for some patients. City of Hope’s SupportScreen makes that conversation easier for patients.

Patients faced with a cancer diagnosis have a lot to take in. It’s no surprise that many need help airing their concerns to their care teams. That’s why a City of Hope team developed SupportScreen, to enable patients to communicate their needs better.

Last week, the tablet-based app hit an important milestone, screening its 10,000th patient.

The achievement comes at an important time, as new accreditation standards go into effect in January 2015 from two important organizations charged with evaluating cancer care providers — the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The standards focus on screening for psychosocial distress, unmet needs and other psychosocial barriers to care, which SupportScreen was designed to address.

» Continue Reading


Lung cancer isn’t just a smoker’s disease: Know the risk factors

November 3, 2014 | by

The single largest risk factor for lung cancer is smoking, and it contributes to the overwhelming majority of lung cancer cases.

lungs

While smoking is the top risk factor for lung cancer, a growing number of patients never smoked. Here are other risk factors that are known and being studied.

That’s old news, of course. What might be news to many people is that, although smoking is a major cause of lung cancer, it’s not the only cause. In fact, a growing number of cases are occurring in patients who never smoked and who did not have significant exposure to secondhand smoke.

About 15 percent of lung cancers are diagnosed in people who do not smoke. Further, about 60 percent or more occur in nonsmokers, including people who never smoked and those who quit many years before their diagnosis.

Success in smoking education and cessation efforts means fewer smokers, but as the numbers of smokers developing lung cancer declines, scientists are recognizing how much we have to learn about the causes of this disease.

Other lung cancer risk factors: » Continue Reading


For November, 30 facts (one a day) about lung cancer

November 1, 2014 | by

Lung cancer is a men’s health issue. It’s a women’s health issue. The truth is, anyone can get lung cancer.

lung cancer

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death. Today 400,000 survivors live in the U.S. More research and screening is needed to keep that number on the rise.

Arriving on the calendar after month-long (and higher profile) awareness campaigns for prostate and breast cancers, Lung Cancer Awareness Month calls for more research, more breakthroughs, and more understanding of a disease that kills more Americans than prostate cancer and breast cancer combined.

Through breakthroughs in screening and diagnosis, targeted medications and more advanced surgeries, more people are surviving the disease than ever before. Screening for lung cancer with low-dose CT scans can prevent 20 percent of lung cancer deaths by identifying them early.

Among the discoveries in this growing body of research is that – as with all cancers – no one is immune from lung cancer risk. Lung cancer is often considered to be a disease that affects only the elderly, or a disease that affects only smokers. Smoking is indeed the top risk factor – so quitting smoking is a huge step toward reducing risk – but it’s not the only factor.

More cases of the disease are found in nonsmokers every year. About 15 percent of all cases are in never-smokers. About 60 percent of cases are patients who quit many years ago or who never smoked at all.

Although lung cancer is by far the top cause of cancer death for both men and women, many don’t seem to realize this fact. This spring, the American Lung Association released the results of its first Women’s Lung Health Barometer, a survey of more than 1,000 women. Only 1 percent of women named lung cancer as a top-of-mind cancer. Further, 78 percent did not know the disease has killed more women than breast cancer since 1987.

Together, we can raise awareness of, and reduce deaths attributed to, lung cancer. To that end, we offer 30 facts (one for each day of November) about lung cancer.

» Continue Reading


Breast cancer among minorities: Access to care is critical to saving lives

October 13, 2014 | by

All women are at some risk of developing the disease in their lifetimes, but breast cancer, like other cancers, has a disproportionate effect on minorities.

multi-ethnic women talk breast cancer

While breast cancer is most common among white women, minority women, especially African-American women, are more likely to die from the disease. Access to screening, quality care and follow-up care are crucial to bridging the gap.

Although white women have the highest incidence of breast cancer, African-American women have the highest breast cancer death rates of all racial and ethnic groups. They are 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. The five-year survival rate for African-American breast cancer patients is 78 percent, compared to 90 percent for white women, according to the American Cancer Society. Many factors contribute to this disparity, including that black women tend to have cancers that are more aggressive and harder to treat.

But access to screening, prompt follow-up when a mammogram indicates something is not normal, and access to high quality medical care also play a significant role. In fact, City of Hope experts on breast cancer among minorities found that 15 percent of black women who have had breast cancer do not receive yearly follow-up mammograms – despite their increased risk of developing the disease. » Continue Reading