A Family Tradition Becomes More Personal

I’ve been involved with City of Hope since I was 14 through my family’s fundraising efforts. My father was president of the City of Hope chapter, Pathways to Hope. He was in the food business and hosted fundraisers, silent auctions, luncheons and dinners. We did all we could to help support City of Hope’s mission.

What makes City of Hope so special to me is how patients are treated. At City of Hope, healing is a journey you take together. When you walk in, you feel like you’re being given a big hug and the assurance that they are there for you. This is why I decided to extend my current support to the future.

My husband and I included City of Hope in our trust because giving is a part of our family tradition, and in looking at our lives, it’s important to us to leave behind a legacy not just for our children but also for the future. My parents felt the same way and demonstrated that the act of giving and considering what you’ll leave behind can make the world a better place for the next generation.

I also personally experienced the warmth and concern offered by everyone at City of Hope when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 at age 48.

My primary doctor was concerned about my mammogram and sent me for an ultrasound. I was told that there was nothing wrong, but I felt certain I needed a second opinion. I was scared but decided that I needed to be in charge of my health. Without a doubt, I knew I had to go to City of Hope.

Within a week, doctors at City of Hope diagnosed my cancer. After reviewing my options, I had a bilateral mastectomy and have been cancer-free ever since.

The amazing thing about City of Hope is that they are by your side every step of the way. They don’t just leave you with the stress of the unknown which can be the hardest part of being diagnosed.

Since City of Hope has been a part of my life for such a long time, it was natural for me to join the Patient and Family Advisory Council, a working group of current and former patients, caregivers and family members, so I could help City of Hope continue to meet its tradition of providing a high-quality patient care.

City of Hope values the Council’s guidance because each member has experienced their care personally. For example, when City of Hope launched its expansion to Orange County and created the Lennar Foundation Cancer Center, they sought our feedback every step of the way. The cancer center will provide many more people access to the best treatment, doctors and research without requiring them to travel far. It will fill a tremendous void for the Orange County area and help the Duarte campus accommodate the increasing number of patients there.

Since the Cancer Center is being built from the ground up, City of Hope, with the Council’s help, has been able to make the patient experience central to the design. Seemingly small details in a large project matter a great deal to patients. The Wayfinder, a map system developed to direct patients throughout the building, is a great example.

Those of us on the Patient and Family Advisory Council were able to look at the maps, walk through the building and offer detailed suggestions. We saw that the distance a patient needed to travel between appointments was too long and had too many stopping points for someone who was not feeling their best or who had mobility issues. Our suggestions were all reflected on the next map.

In the infusion rooms where patients receive chemotherapy, there is a gorgeous view out the windows, so chairs need to swivel so the patient can turn to look. It can be a real challenge in older buildings for patients and family members to find places to plug in their phones, so USB and charging ports were included. The same concern was shown in waiting rooms for caregivers and in every space throughout the building.

I also contributed feedback to the design of the Positive Image Center on the Irvine campus. It offers a welcoming and supportive environment where oncology-trained, licensed cosmetologists help minimize the visible side effects of cancer for men and women. The Positive Image Center is bright and comfortable, so patients feel safe and welcomed.

With their focus on patients’ mind, body, and spirit and their commitment to excellence in treatment, City of Hope will continue to play a leading role in the search for a cure. I believe that someday, there will be an announcement that we’ve cured cancer. And with my participation on the Patient and Family Advisory Council, my current giving, and my future legacy gift, I know I’ll be a part of that.