I was recently thinking about writing City of Hope about information I wanted to find out about my mother when your letter arrived asking for “My City of Hope Story.” This is my story — not the full one since it has been so long, but sometimes memories make it seem like yesterday.
My mother, Eva Lillian Thompson, was admitted to City of Hope in January of 1981. My husband and I had always supported City of Hope through our charitable donations at both of our employers. When my mother was told there was nothing her doctor could do for her cancer, my only thought was that maybe City of Hope could help her. She was admitted because her cancer was one that was difficult to detect and fast growing. She had her original surgery in December of 1980 and by the time she was accepted to City of Hope, just one and a half months later, her tumor had grown back. She told me after her first physical at City of Hope that it was one of the most complete physicals she had ever had. She was in and out of City of Hope for the next nine months. She could not have received better care anywhere else. Her youngest granddaughter learned to walk on the floors at City of Hope. I remember one visit she asked if I noticed anything different and I said, “No.” Mom said, “They have removed my tubes. I didn’t want my granddaughters to remember me with those tubes.” Unfortunately, her granddaughters don’t remember her because they were so young when she passed away.
I remember the day she was there for a follow-up visit for a skin graft and the doctor told me she had to come back the next day. I left the room and was outside crying and a nurse asked what was wrong. I told her that I couldn’t come back the next day because I would not be able to get a babysitter for my children. She took the initiative to talk to the doctor and change the appointment. I also remember a time when my mother had a special medication that her doctor asked me to have filled at the pharmacy and when I went to get it filled, it was going to be $75 per pouch. That was a lot of money at the time and I returned to her room upset (once again) and the nurse told me not to worry about it. “Take the pouch back. We have plenty of open pouches we can have you take home with her.“
I have been thinking about her illness a lot lately because I now have outlived her by eight years. She died when she was 62 and would have been a wonderful grandmother. She was caring, loving and very artistic. I have many of her carved wooden pieces, but I treasure the pieces she made at City of Hope for therapy, two weavings and a dream catcher, and belts for my husband and myself.
She passed away October 24, 1981. She had returned to City of Hope for an intravenous feeding and had planned to go Christmas shopping the next Monday. I had already rented a wheelchair. We never made that trip. She died early the next morning. When I was going through her knitting, I found her Christmas list and did the best to fulfill her wishes.
There are a lot more memories, but they are like flashbacks. My husband and I have the greatest respect for the work that is done at City of Hope.