Orange County Mom Given Second Chance Thanks to Lifesaving Stem Cell Transplant

Donna McNutt was 54 years old when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer that forms in plasma cells of the immune system.

“My main concern was my children. A mother will do anything to protect her children from hurt and pain, and I worried that I would become their greatest one. My challenge was to survive, no matter what it took and to show my children that I would fight and become a warrior they could be proud of.”

A friend who was a cancer survivor spoke highly about Amrita Krishnan, M.D., a hematologist-oncologist and myeloma specialist at City of Hope. Donna began treatment with Dr. Krishnan several weeks later. She received a lifesaving stem cell transplant and her cancer is now under control.

Fighting cancer has changed Donna’s perspective on life. She said, “I do not wait until tomorrow for what needs to be said today. I always believed giving was the greatest gift, but cancer has shown me how to receive, and for this I am grateful. I love, forgive, encourage and tell my children how proud I am of them. I have stronger relationships with my husband, Jack, and my children, Corbin, Hunter and Tatum. This is the gift cancer gives us: patience, if we choose to recognize it. We are at peace, and I know in my heart this extra time has helped us prepare for what might be.”

Donna received her care at City of Hope’s Duarte, California, campus and says she was fortunate that her husband could drive her to treatment whenever needed. But she said she realizes her circumstances are not universal and she is thrilled about City of Hope’s new Orange County campus and network of care and the impact it will have on patients and their families. Dr. Krishnan is one of several renowned City of Hope physicians with unique cancer expertise now seeing patients like Donna in Orange County.

Nearly 20% of cancer patients leave Orange County for advanced cancer care, with many traveling to our Duarte campus. “Since my diagnosis, my treatment has been ongoing. Minimally, I’m at City of Hope twice a month for my infusion and to see a doctor. There are so many patients in Orange County who don’t have the resources to travel for specialized care at a ranking comprehensive cancer center. Having City of Hope right here in Orange County is phenomenal for everyone in the community. The impact on Orange County, and on so many of us patients — mothers, husbands, children — will be incredible.”

Donna McNutt has named City of Hope a beneficiary of her life insurance policy and is a member of the Legacy of Hope Society. “We are so fortunate to have a leading cancer center nearby. Anyone who knows me understands what City of Hope means to me and my journey.”