Manuel Espinosa, one of six children of parents who emigrated from Mexico, is devoted to three things – his faith, his family (wife Adriana, and children Julian and Cristian) and the U.S. Army. After participating in ROTC at University of California Santa Barbara, he was commissioned as an officer and served around the world for 27 years, until the day in October 2013 when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Due to the severity of his diagnosis, he and his family left Hawaii, where he was posted, and returned home to his extended family in Southern California. Within a week, he was admitted to City of Hope. Under the treatment of Margaret O’Donnell, M.D., he received chemotherapy, and was cancer-free within a month of being admitted. He received additional chemotherapy, radiation treatment and then a stem cell transplant the following year.
The mental toughness he learned in the Army kept him in good stead as he faced his illness. “But once the initial shock of the diagnosis was past, what I thought about was my family. They gave me the incentive to fight. My children were so young, and I had a lot of work ahead of me. That incentive along with the superb treatment I received at City of Hope helped me win this battle.”
According to Manuel, “The name – City of Hope – says it all. The minute I stepped in the doors, I experienced purpose, urgency, professionalism, understanding and a genuine feeling of care and concern from all staff. The nurses were just fantastic, although I might have been a bit hard to deal with sometimes!”
Manuel shares, “I come from a humble background and my parents raised me to get an education, give back and live a good life.” Leaving a gift by naming City of Hope as a beneficiary of his life insurance policy is just one way he is giving back. “I’m thankful that because of the Army, I was able to afford the care I needed, and now I’m in a position to offer this gift.”
Due to side effects of his treatment, Manuel retired from the Army in 2015 at the rank of colonel, and feels blessed to be able to devote himself to his children, now 12 and 15, and his wife of over 30 years. “City of Hope gave me my life back. With young children, I am taking advantage of this blessing I was given. I’m not just living, I’m thriving.”