Posts tagged ‘City of Hope’

Community members come together to advise City of Hope

June 27, 2015 | by

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It takes a village. No man is an island.

community benefit advisory council

Patricia Duff Tucker, left, and Viki Goto are co-chairs of City of Hope’s new Community Benefit Advisory Council. With their help, and that of the other council members, City of Hope is determined to improve the health of its community.

Choose your aphorism: It’s a simple truth that collaboration usually is better than isolation. That’s especially true when you’re trying to introduce healthful habits and deliver health care to people at risk of disease and with little access to care.

City of Hope knows that reaching the most vulnerable residents of the Greater San Gabriel Valley requires what the military might call boots on the ground — people working within the community who are invested in its well-being. That’s where City of Hope’s new Community Benefit Advisory Council comes in. The council’s goal is to identify issues that affect the area’s vulnerable populations – and support strategies to solve those issues.

The council works within a web of intersecting lines to craft policy and pass judgment on how the hospital pursues its community benefit mission. It’s made up of 28 community members, plus six nonvoting City of Hope representatives. The council’s next big decision is in July, when it will decide which community groups will receive funds from City of Hope’s Healthy Living Grant Program.

“Many of the final decisions the council makes are based on the broader community,” said Nancy Clifton-Hawkins, community benefit manager at City of Hope. “They’re not from on high.” » Continue Reading

New scholarship for nurses pays special tribute to exceptional care

June 17, 2015 | by
Scholarship-for-nurses winner Lauryn Elffers

Lauryn Elffers, left, is one of four recipients of a scholarships for nurses. At right is Anne Bourque, clinical nursing director in the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation.

Ask any patient: Nurses are as pivotal in their care as doctors. They answer the call of a patient in the middle of the night, they hold the patient’s hand as he or she takes on yet another round of treatment and, in the best-case scenario, they wave goodbye as the patient leaves the hospital, healthy and happy.

When everyone has gone home for the day and the family is finally sleeping, nurses remain. No matter what road a patient takes, nurses are the constant, supporting them along the ride.

Now, the spouse of one former City of Hope patient is giving back to the institution’s nurses in a big way. » Continue Reading

Pediatric picnic helps young patients ‘feel normal for a day’

June 13, 2015 | by

Cancer and other life-threatening illnesses can be overwhelming experiences for adults. For children, who lack the life experience and context to put their diagnosis in perspective, the treatment and follow-up can be especially isolating. City of Hope’s youngest patients recently got a chance to overcome that isolation.

annual pediatric picnic at City of Hope

Six-year-old Samantha Urias and her family make a stop at the photo booth during City of Hope’s annual pediatric picnic.

More than 1,700 guests — City of Hope’s pediatric patients and survivors, plus their families — gathered on City of Hope’s Duarte campus for a special celebration of life, complete with kids, adults, doctors and nurses, all of whom understand the impact of treatment for cancer and other diseases.

The “Pacific Paradise”-themed pediatric picnic featured carnival-style games, comic artists, a face-painting booth, themed play zones, performances, and special appearances by cast members from Disney Channel’s comedy series “K.C. Undercover” and “Girl Meets World.” Festivities even included a “City of Hope’s Got Talent” variety show featuring pediatric cancer survivors.

Most important, the picnic gave patients and their families the chance to have a good time with other patients and families who had experienced, or were still experiencing, the treatment journey. It also gave patients a chance to connect with their doctors, nurses and other health care providers in a nonclinical environment. » Continue Reading

City of Hope cheers for jockey Victor Espinoza

June 6, 2015 | by
Victor Espinoza

Jockey Victor Espinoza, a supporter of City of Hope, shows a signed card of support from patients during a recent visit. 

Updated: Sunday, June 7, 2015

On Saturday, for the second consecutive year, jockey Victor Espinoza attempted to capture the historic Triple Crown of horse racing. As in 2014, after wins at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Espinoza rode in the Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York, in an attempt to claim a title not won since 1978. This time, riding American Pharoah, he won, capturing the Triple Crown.

As before, Espinoza has promised to donate a portion of his winnings to City of Hope, continuing his record of support of the institution’s groundbreaking research and lifesaving, patient-focused care. Espinoza often visits City of Hope campus, sharing smiles, gifts and stories of his more than 3,200 career victories with patients.

“Good health — that’s what I want for everyone. With good health, people can enjoy life and do those things that make them happy,” Espinoza said. “By working to defeat cancer, City of Hope’s researchers and doctors are bringing a greater chance of health and happiness to people everywhere.”

In Southern California, fans cheered on Espinoza track side at neighboring Santa Anita Park.


Learn more about giving to City of Hope.


Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673)You may also request a new patient appointment online. 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.

National Cancer Survivors Day: Celebrate the courage of patients and families

June 3, 2015 | by

June is a month of benchmark celebrations: People graduate. People get married. People celebrate their survival of cancer.

The first Sunday of the month (June 7 this year) is National Cancer Survivors Day, but City of Hope recognizes that a single day is insufficient to help people understand something as complicated as this disease. So City of Hope’s Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center and the Department of Supportive Care Medicine have planned a full week of events from June 8 to 12 to celebrate the courage of patients, families and caregivers, and to promote their well-being before, during and after treatment.

National Cancer Survivors Day

In 2014, there were about 14 million cancer survivors. By 2024, according to the American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates, that population will reach nearly 19 million, an increase of nearly one-third in only a decade.

A cancer survivor is anyone who has been diagnosed with the disease. It doesn’t matter if your tumor was found yesterday or your most recent chemotherapy treatment was during the Clinton administration.

The American Cancer Society identifies at least three distinct phases: the time from diagnosis to the end of initial treatment, the transition from treatment to extended survival and long-term survival. Practically speaking, however, a “survivor” often means someone who has finished active treatment.

In 2014, there were about 14 million cancer survivors. By 2024, according to the American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates, that population will reach nearly 19 million, an increase of nearly one-third in only a decade. » Continue Reading

NCI-MATCH: Trial focuses on mutations for rare cancers, not tumor site

June 2, 2015 | by

Precision medicine is becoming a reality for cancers with genetic mutations that are practically household names, such as those behind some breast cancers and lung cancers.

rare cancers

A new multicenter trial focuses on providing precision treatments for rare cancers based on genetics, not tumor site.

For patients with very rare cancers, the options are fewer.

A new National Cancer Institute clinical trial, called NCI-MATCH: Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice, aims to help such patients. The nationwide effort, announced Monday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, will provide a way for patients who have cancers with known mutations in unusual sites to access new therapies in clinical trials.

For example, BRAF gene mutations are commonly associated with melanoma, but they can also be linked to other cancers. The NCI-MATCH trial will allow a patient with a BRAF mutation in a different kind of tumor to have access to a clinical trial.

“It’s tissue agnostic,” said Karen Reckamp, M.D., M.S., co-director of the Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program at City of Hope. Reckamp will serve as a principal investigator for one of the arms of the multicenter trial. “This will open up the availability of targeted therapies to patients with very rare cancers.” » Continue Reading

Leukemia survivor Stephen Bess on life, change and ‘my new normal’

June 2, 2015 | by

Leukemia survivor Stephen Bess

Leukemia survivor Stephen Bess, pictured here with his wife, Erin, will meet his bone marrow donor for the first time at City of Hope’s Celebrity Softball game.

Nashville, Tennessee, native Stephen Bess, who received a hematopoietic stem cell transplant for acute lymphoblastic leukemia more than two years ago at City of Hope, will meet his genetically matched donor on June 13 in a rare and special ceremony at the 25th annual Celebrity Softball Game in Nashville. 

Here, Bess recounts his treatment experience and the perspective he’s gained …


In the midst of all this craziness – meeting my hero donor, reaching the two-year post-transplant milestone, starting an incredible new job, celebrating life in my hometown of Nashville, and celebrating my wife’s first pregnancy – I was asked to write a blog post for City of Hope. Specifically, I was asked to answer two questions: How has life changed since my diagnosis and treatment, and why did I choose City of Hope as my treatment hospital?

The simple answer is that life has changed in every possible way.

From the moment I watched my oncologist’s lips move in slow motion as he said, “You have leukemia,” to my first chemo infusion, to my transplant prep and even to this day, everything is different.

I’m no longer gleefully ignorant of my mortality. It’s on my mind all the time. People often ask me, “Are you back to normal yet?” Life has changed so much, there will never be a “back to normal” for me; there’s only my new normal. » Continue Reading

Herpes virus to treat melanoma? Skin cancer expert offers perspective

June 1, 2015 | by
melanoma and the herpes virus

A modified herpes virus has potential in the treatment of melanoma. But treatment isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.

Cancer researchers have long explored the potential of modified viruses, such as pox, parvo and coxsackie, in treating the disease. Now headlines are suggesting that this potential may have been realized.

Initial findings published in the Journal of Oncology on May 26 show that a genetically engineered herpes virus, known as T-VEC, could be especially beneficial for patients with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Specifically, the virus is showing the ability to kill cancer cells and stop tumors from growing.

This power comes from the fact that viruses, unlike chemotherapy, have the ability to target the cancer cells directly, activating the immune system to fight cancer without collateral damage to healthy cells.

In the latest study, researchers from The Institute of Cancer Research, London and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust found that out of 436 patients with aggressive Stage 3 or Stage 4 malignant melanoma included in the trial, 16 percent had a response rate that lasted for more than six months.

The findings have been widely heralded. Said the Washington Post: “In a few months time, those suffering from skin cancer may find an unlikely hero in their treatment regimen: herpes. A modified version of the Herpes Simplex 1 virus (known for causing cold sores and some cases of genital herpes) called T-Vec has successfully been used to treat melanoma in a phase III clinical trial. That means it’s just waiting for a final okay from the FDA before the Amgen product can hit the market.”

Amid the enthusiasm, much of it warranted, Jae Jung, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in dermatology at City of Hope, urges perspective.  » Continue Reading

Brain cancer treatment helps men with advanced prostate cancer

May 29, 2015 | by

City of Hope is developing cures for men by bridging the lab and clinic. Here, Karen Aboody works with Jacob Berlin.

Although science and medicine have much in common, their practitioners are immersed in work that often appears to be worlds apart. Developing cures together — that is, translating science into meaningful, effective medical treatment — requires boundless creativity and perseverance.

This journey often starts when City of Hope’s scientists and clinicians share their recent discoveries and challenges in the lab and clinic. This open forum enables them to make new connections and consider possibilities for improving treatment for patients.

One such connection was made when Karen Aboody, M.D., professor of neurosciences and a renowned translational scientist, shared advances using neural stem cells to treat cancer with Jonathan Yamzon, M.D., a urologic oncologist who spends his days treating men in the clinic. Yamzon was intrigued by the potential of this science to target prostate cancer.

As a result, a team of researchers has embraced this promising new approach as a way to cure men. Yamzon and Aboody, along with Jacob Berlin, Ph.D., assistant professor of molecular medicine, and Jeremy Jones, Ph.D., assistant professor of molecular pharmacology, are now collaborating to bring neural stem cell therapy to men fighting prostate cancer — patients in urgent need of novel therapies for their disease.

Hormone therapy is the standard treatment for prostate cancer. The approach essentially starves cancer of testosterone, which the tumors need to grow and spread. But in many men, the cells mutate to produce testosterone on their own and keep growing, in effect becoming resistant to therapy. At this point, higher doses of chemotherapy may be effective, but would be too toxic to tolerate. This is where targeted neural stem cell therapy could step in. “We’re looking to treat patients who really don’t have any other options,” Yamzon said.

» Continue Reading

Moving patients from terminal to treatable – with robotic surgery

May 28, 2015 | by
Robotic Surgery_004

“There are many ways that we can get at cancer without making giant incisions, yet still give the patients good outcomes,” said Yuman Fong, chair of the Department of Surgery at City of Hope.

Minimally invasive surgery at City of Hope is performed using robots with “wrists” that provide greater dexterity and range of motion than a human hand. These advanced “surgical assistants” enable surgeons to access hard-to-reach areas of the body through incisions no larger than a penny.

“Surgical robotics is a rapidly maturing field that represents both the present and the future at City of Hope, one of the largest centers of minimally-invasive and robotic surgery in the world,” says Yuman Fong, M.D., chair of the Department of Surgery.

The less-is-more approach has dramatically altered the way patients experience and recover from surgery. A smaller incision often means less postoperative pain, fewer side effects, quicker recovery and a shorter hospital stay.

City of Hope surgeons have performed more than 10,000 robot-assisted surgeries since 2003, when the cancer center began performing prostatectomy using the da Vinci Surgical System, the first robotic surgery system approved by the Food and Drug Administration for general laparoscopic surgery.

An early adapter to robotics, the cancer center has played a key role in the development and refinement of the technology. From a console, the surgeon manipulates four robotic arms — three grip laparoscopic tools, while the fourth holds a pencil-sized video camera that is inserted through the incision to provide three-dimensional, magnified vision of the site.

» Continue Reading