Posts tagged ‘cancer survivor’


Book excerpt: ‘Bald, Fat & Crazy: How I Beat Cancer While Pregnant’

June 15, 2015 | by

Within three days in 2007, Stephanie Hosford, then 37, learned that she was pregnant with her long-awaited second child – and that she had triple-negative breast cancer. Soon afterward, Hosford discovered that she and her husband, Grant, had been approved to adopt a little girl from China. 

"Bald, Fat & Crazy," by former City of Hope patient Stephanie Hosford

“Bald, Fat & Crazy: How I Beat Cancer While Pregnant With One Daughter and Adopting Another,” by former City of Hope breast cancer patient Stephanie Hosford, lands in bookstores June 15, 2015.

After encountering many physicians who advised them to terminate the pregnancy, the Hosfords found doctors at City of Hope who were confident they could successfully treat Stephanie without harming the baby. 

The Hosfords proceeded with both plans to expand their family, even while Hosford herself was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. In a previous Breakthroughs post, Hosford shared some advice with other patients, based on what she learned from her treatment experience.

Now Hosford has written a book about that experience, titled “Bald, Fat & Crazy: How I Beat Cancer While Pregnant With One Daughter and Adopting Another.” 

Here, Hosford shares an excerpt from her new book.

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CHAPTER 14

“Livin’ on the Edge” — Aerosmith
I need a wig.  An exceptionally fantastic wig, that doesn’t look at all like a wig.  I don’t know if anything like that exists, especially in my non-pop star price range, but it’s time to get serious.  I’m running out of time if I want to be prepared before chemo begins next week.

A couple of days later, Mom, Jenn and I pull into the tiny parking lot in the back of BigWigs, a small wig shop in Hollywood.  We wander up and down the aisles, studying the mannequin heads that look back at us with frozen faces.

“How long should I go?”  I ask Jenn, sounding stoic as I try to hold in my emotions. » Continue Reading


Lung cancer patient can ‘finally push play on my life again’

May 26, 2015 | by
Emily Taylor

Lung cancer patient Emily Bennett Taylor with her husband, Miles. Taylor has had “No Evidence of Disease (NED)” for two years.

In June 2012, 28-year-old Emily Bennett Taylor was getting ready to celebrate her second wedding anniversary with her college sweetheart when she discovered that she had Stage 4 lung cancer. Taylor was a former college athlete, had led a healthy and active lifestyle and had never smoked. She quickly began treatment at City of Hope and vowed from Day 1 that she would do whatever it took to survive. After eight rounds of chemotherapy, surgery to remove her right lung and radiation, Taylor is now in remission. Here, Taylor shares how it felt to find out her scans no longer showed evidence of the disease.

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It was the first scan that I was nervous about … I mean really nervous. So much was riding on this.

Statistically, two years of clean scans showing No Evidence of Disease (NED) represents a significant milestone and increase in survival for lung cancer patients like myself. But to be honest, I’ve never been one to be too hung up on the statistics.

Rather, the two-year mark was so nerve-wracking because it signified something even bigger – something that cancer so cruelly pauses upon diagnosis – it presented me with the opportunity to finally push play on my life again.

Since my diagnosis in June of 2012 at the age of 28 with Stage 4 lung cancer, I’ve been the cause of so much stress and pain on my family. Of course, they all never complain, but I can easily see the effects. It’s not hard when my husband, Miles, is continually gripping his chest and trying to beat the ulcer out of his stomach. Or, when I call my grandparents and my grandmother cries each time she says goodbye to me. I hate seeing my loved ones hurting over me.

I once asked Miles to just relax and breathe easy, and he told me, “I’ll breathe normally when you’re two years NED.” So, I internalized his comment and earmarked that two-year date. Each night, I’ve prayed and hoped for it to come sooner, as with it, I hoped it would finally bring peace to my family.

» Continue Reading


#LastChemo: ‘Attitude is everything,’ says 21-year-old cancer survivor

February 16, 2015 | by
#lastchemo: young cancer survivor

Rhabdomyosarcoma survivor Trevor Hoffman, 21, celebrates his #LastChemo with a solid plan for 2015.

Trevor Hoffman was only 21 when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, but not even cancer could keep him off his motorcycles. (He has one for racing, and a couple just for fun.) Now a cancer survivor, Hoffman, who lives in La Verne, California, wrapped up his treatment Jan. 19 – just one day after his 21st birthday.

What was your diagnosis?

I was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma. [Also known as RMS, rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common soft tissue tumor in children, leading to tumors in muscles attached to bones. Although it can occur in many places in the body, the most common areas are the head, neck, arms, legs and urogenital tract.]

What would you tell other patients about to undergo chemotherapy? In other words, what do you know now that you wish you’d known then?

It’s definitely going to be a tough road no matter what. But attitude is everything. Try to keep the best focus on the outcome in the end. Keep a positive attitude. Even though it was a year of craziness, that was one of the things I felt I had the entire time. » Continue Reading


#LastChemo: ‘It takes a village,’ says breast cancer survivor

February 9, 2015 | by

Michele Dahlstein, a 50-year-old breast cancer survivor from Upland, California, celebrated her last day of chemotherapy on Dec. 30. She shares her story in her own words:

breast cancer survivor

Breast cancer survivor Michele Dahlstein proudly shows off the medal commemorating her last chemo treatment.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer (invasive ductal carcinoma stage 2) on Aug. 11, 2014, after my yearly mammogram at City of Hope’s Women’s Health Center, followed by a screening mammogram and biopsy. After consultations with Dr. Laura Kruper and Dr. James Andersen, I underwent a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction on Sept. 15, 2014.

Because I had two positive lymph nodes, I also underwent four rounds of chemo (after consulting with Dr. James Waisman).  I began my chemo on Oct. 30, 2014, and had my last one Dec. 30, 2014. My first chemo was the roughest. I experienced many side effects. Now that I’m finished with my treatment, I’m looking forward to getting back to my “normal” life ( having more energy, teaching, exercising, traveling and tasting food).

It takes a village! Thank you my family, friends, everyone at City of Hope’s Women’s Health Center, Dr. Kruper, Dr. Andersen, Liz Yates, Dr. Wasiman and Lori Rezanek-Kells. You’re the best!!!

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Have a #LastChemo photo or story to share? Share with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or by email at media@coh.org.

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.


Inspiring Stories: Nurse is also colon cancer survivor

December 16, 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.”

Representing City of Hope’s nursing and clinical care teams will be Anne Bourque, R.N., clinical nursing director in the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation. But Bourque also has her own patient story to tell. Here, the 35-year veteran of City of Hope relates her experience with colon cancer.

By Anne Bourque

Clinical nursing director and colon cancer survivor, Anne Bourque

City of Hope nurse, Anne Bourque, is also a colon cancer survivor. Shown here with her fiancée, Steve Barnard, she’ll ride City of Hope’s Rose Parade float on New Year’s Day. The theme of the parade is “Inspiring Stories;” the theme of the float is “Made Possible by Hope.”

I have two stories: one as an employee of City of Hope, and one as colon cancer survivor treated at City of Hope.

I am a registered nurse and started working at City of Hope in 1980 when I was 25. I can honestly say accepting a job here was one of the best decisions that I have made in my life. I have worked with some of the most talented and remarkable colleagues, and knowing many of them for 30-plus years has enriched my life tremendously.

Fast forward to 2002: Then, as now, I was the clinical nursing director of hematology and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. I was divorced, with two children  – Elizabeth, who was 19, and Gregory, who was 14.

I was 47, had some bleeding and went for a colonoscopy at a different hospital. I had no desire to have any City of Hope physician see me with less than my normal work clothes on, so naturally, I would have the test done elsewhere.

On Feb. 13, on the colonoscopy table, I found out that I had colon cancer. » Continue Reading


Children with cancer, Part 3: Transitioning from patient to survivor

July 7, 2014 | by

John Cloer was three months shy of his third birthday in 2004 when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. For the next three and a half years, he received chemotherapy at City of Hope, finally obtaining long-term remission.

childhood cancer survivor John Cloer

The challenges of a cancer diagnosis don’t stop with treatment. Survivorship brings its own challenges, as John Cloer, a former leukemia patient at City of Hope, knows well.

His parents Bill and Gina, along with John and his younger brother Steve, recently sat down to reflect on that experience, sharing tips for family members and friends of children with cancer, as well as advice for parents of children with cancer. Here, they and City of Hope pediatric nurse Karla Wilson, R.N., M.S.N., discuss the sometimes difficult transition from treatment to survivorship.

In this third of a three-part series, they describe the transition from patient to survivor.

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Some of the cancer treatments that save children’s lives also may produce life-altering side effects that don’t materialize for years.

During the Cloers’ annual visit to City of Hope’s Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program, Wilson reviews John’s medical progress, and reminds his parents about conditions they’ll need to monitor.

When alerting patients that they may be prone to future therapy-related conditions, Wilson said she always tries to drive home one message above all: Just because survivors are at risk for a condition doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily develop it. » Continue Reading


Children with cancer, Part 2: How parents can help their kids

June 30, 2014 | by

John Cloer was three months shy of his third birthday in 2004 when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. For the next three and a half years, he received chemotherapy at City of Hope, finally obtaining long-term remission.

John Cloer

Now 13, John Cloer, right with younger brother Steve, was only 3 when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. His parents learned the hard way how to cope with a new array of parenting challenges. Shown here: John (right) with his brother, Steve.

His parents Bill and Gina, along with John and his younger brother Steve, recently sat down to reflect on that experience, sharing tips for family members and friends of children with cancer and now, their advice for parents facing a similar challenge.

In this second of a three-part series, they answer the question:

How can parents help their children with cancer? 

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1. Numb the pain. Perhaps because he still remembers caregivers frantically trying to start an IV in him the day he was diagnosed, John still dreads IVs and injections. The Cloers now ask nurses to use lidocaine to numb a site before the needle goes in. (They pay for this off-protocol request, but find it worth the costs.)

In the early days of John’s illness, the tense toddler used to “rub the rubber right off his pacifier,” said Bill. “I wish we had had a better tool set to manage his anxiety,” he added. Gina regrets they didn’t get John into the habit of meditating before procedures, “a coping skill I wish he’d have now.” » Continue Reading


Children with cancer, Part 1: How family members and friends can help

June 23, 2014 | by

John Cloer became a teenager in May, an ordinary rite of passage made extraordinary because he is a cancer survivor – one of an estimated 370,000 pediatric cancer survivors in the U.S.

Childhood cancer patient John Cloer

The parents of John Cloer, now a childhood cancer survivor, learned many lessons during his treatment for leukemia. Photo courtesy of the Cloer family.

He was three months shy of his third birthday in 2004 when what his parents Bill and Gina Cloer assumed was the flu was diagnosed as acute lymphoblastic leukemia. For the next three and a half years, John received chemotherapy – eventually leading to his long-term remission.

John finally became well enough to attend kindergarten and enjoy normal pursuits like T-ball. In fact, his perseverance (from staying late to practice, to reveling in teammates’ progress) earned the 6-year-old an invitation to play T-ball on the White House lawn and meet President George Bush. He has long raised awareness for City of Hope, from presenting an award to singer Miley Cyrus to riding on the hospital’s 2014 Tournament of Roses float as his sister Heather, a City of Hope nurse, walked alongside.

When John was embarking on cancer treatment, Bill and Gina were given well-tested roadmaps from oncologists adept at keeping children alive. On the comparatively uncharted path of cancer survivorship, they have longed for a similar roadmap. Along with regular follow-up visits with doctors such as Clarke Anderson, M.D., the Cloers are being helped in their survivorship journey by City of Hope’s Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program, led by Smita Bhatia, M.D., M.P.H., the Ruth Ziegler Chair in Populations Sciences, and nurse practitioner Karla Wilson, M.S.N., R.N.

In this program, John and his family receive a comprehensive medical summary of his diagnosis and treatment, as well as an individualized review of his potential late-effects from treatment.

Bill, Gina, John and his younger brother, Steve, recently sat down around their dining room table and offered some advice to parents of children with cancer, along with well-meaning family and friends.

In this first of a three-part series, they answer the question:

What can family/friends do to help parents whose children have cancer?

» Continue Reading


For runner Michele Sturt, this journey began with a lymph node

May 22, 2014 | by

Every patient story is unique and, so in its own way, inspiring. Here, Michele Sturt – a runner, a nurse and a mother of four – shares her story of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and of her ultimate treatment at City of Hope.

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I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2007 when I was 54 years old. I had been a runner since I was in my early twenties and used running as my gauge to my personal wellness status. How fast, how much effort, how many aches and pains, how many personal bests … these have been my general health parameters for many years. In other words, aside from various weekend warrior accidents, I had been quite healthy until I was told I had non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

patient Michele Sturt

Michele Sturt of Petoskey, Michigan, has long used running as her gauge of personal health. Before she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, her running signaled to her that something wasn’t quite right. Now, almost a year post-bone marrow transplant at City of Hope, she’s running once more. Here, she runs near a son’s home in Santa Barbara. Photo courtesy of Michele Sturt.

I had noticed that I was really having a hard time keeping up with my running friends. I was working too hard and not getting anywhere fast. I also had a single small inguinal lymph node that was new. It didn’t bother me other than I knew it wasn’t normal. Besides being a runner, I am also a nurse practitioner in internal medicine.

First, I waited the obligatory four to six weeks to see if it would go away. I also complained to one of the doctors I work with, and she felt I should have the node biopsied and be done with it. The general surgeon gave me the option of waiting longer before doing anything, but at that point I wanted the node out and evaluated. I was tired but had no other symptoms.

My diagnosis was non-Hodgkin lymphoma, specifically indolent follicular B cell, a slow-growing, not curable but treatable form of lymphoma.

So, now what? I didn’t feel like I had cancer. I had lived an unusually clean and healthy life, although crazy busy and active, and I was the last person you would expect to have cancer, unless you knew what I knew – it’s a dice throw and I just crapped out. With only one oncologist available in my hometown of Petoskey, Michigan, at that time, I needed to figure out where to go for answers. » Continue Reading


Bladder cancer patient fought symptoms for 15 years (w/VIDEO)

March 13, 2014 | by

Christine Crews thought she had a bladder infection. Turns out, the Memphis, Tenn., resident had bladder cancer. For 15 years, she fought it with chemotherapy and occasional tumor removals.

When the cancer spread to 80% of her bladder, she was told she would need to have her entire bladder removed. She got a second opinion. And another. Crews wasn’t comfortable with any of the recommendations; she wanted other options. When a urologist friend recommended she call City of Hope, she did.

“They actually listened to what I wanted from the surgery,” Crews said. “They were able to give me options that other hospitals were not able to give me.”

In the video above, Crews shares her story to help other people with bladder cancer understand just how special City of Hope is, and what their options really are.

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Learn more about City of Hope’s bladder cancer program.

Read the Breakthroughs post “8 questions and answers about bladder cancer.”