After a miracle, living each day to the fullest

Jack McCrory, a former teacher and much-loved high school athletic director, expected a vibrant retirement — but instead, he faced a terrible health crisis.

In 2017, suffering from colon cancer with a dire prognosis and severe side effects from chemotherapy, McCrory was advised by his nieces, both nurses, to turn to City of Hope.

“I was in a dark space — the chemotherapy had terrible side effects and my life just wasn’t good,” remembers McCrory. But with a chance for hope, he decided to make the long, 12-hour drive trip to Duarte from his home in Northern California.

Accompanied by his niece, who supported him through every appointment, he was placed on an immunotherapy drug designed to help his immune system fight the cancer. It was a long shot — only 5% of patients are potentially responsive to the drug and, of those, only 3% find success. But he beat the odds.

“Immunotherapy was so much easier on me than the chemotherapy, although I was also looking at surgery to remove the tumor. But the drug worked so well, my doctor said to delay the surgery, and that was my first glimmer of hope. Ultimately, I didn’t need the surgery. They couldn’t even locate the tumor on the X-rays!”

Beyond his medical treatment, McCrory appreciated that he was treated like a partner in his own care: “When I met with Dr. Fakih, he didn’t only have my test results. He showed me the differences between my prior and my current CAT scans and explained everything to me — he didn’t leave it to a radiologist. I never had to come back another day for test results or wait for someone to follow up.”

These days, McCrory lives closer to City of Hope, although he says that he never minded the long drive to Duarte from his former home: “It’s never a long drive to a friend’s house — and that’s how I feel about City of Hope.”

McCrory supports City of Hope in many ways now, including making donations and what he considers a modest gift for City of Hope as part of his estate plans. “I wish I could do more, but I’m alive because of City of Hope. It has a special place in my heart, so I’ll do anything I can.”

He’s now living life to the fullest and appreciating every day, spending time golfing, fishing, biking and gardening: “I’ve got quite a garden! This year, I had beautiful cabbages and so many zucchinis and cucumbers that I was giving them away. And strawberries for my lady friend.”

McCrory hopes that as City of Hope continues to research new drugs and treatments, even more patients will achieve the healing he found at City of Hope.

“I’ve been in remission for three and a half years and, as far as I’m concerned, I’m a miracle! And the miracle wouldn’t have happened without City of Hope.”