Cancer Survivor Stories
With their stories of strength, hope and courage, cancer survivors offer inspiration to one another, to their friends and families, and to the doctors and nurses who care for them. Here are some of these stories, shared by patients who have been treated at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center and take part in UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center programs.
Francesca Arnaudo — "Miracle girl"
By the age of 10, Francesca Arnaudo already had survived two cancer diagnoses – osteosarcoma, a bone cancer, and acute myeloid leukemia, a white blood cell malignancy. Routine follow-ups in 2009 led to the discovery of a third type of cancer, a lung cancer known as bronchioalveolar carcinoma. Fortunately, early detection and surgery have allowed this unstoppable girl to overcome this latest hurdle.
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JoAnn Cannon — Getting back to a "new normal"
JoAnn Cannon, a 62-year-old retired professor of Italian studies who lives in Davis, Calif., had for years dealt with a condition called achalasia, which causes food to collect in the esophagus and makes swallowing difficult. It also predisposes people to esophageal cancer. During an examination, her doctor found a tumor that had penetrated the esophageal muscle.
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Titus Chang — A Miracle Match
Eighteen-month-old Titus Chang had black and purple bruises all over his body, and a nose bleed that soaked a bath towel. Sandy and Lee Chang rushed their baby to a Stockton, Calif. hospital. It was no simple nose bleed; the toddler was turning purplish and pale, and the situation was life threatening.
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Ruby (SaEada) Sharon Evans — Using spirituality and medicine to overcome breast cancer
Having endured cystic breasts for years, SaEada Evans was tired of having them so frequently aspirated – so she stopped going to the doctor. "I didn’t get checked for a few years," she admits. Then she found a painful lump under her arm. It was stage III breast cancer.
Gary Hinze — Team approach to cancer care
When Gary Hinze found himself coughing up blood after a hard workout, he immediately went to see his doctor and was then referred to a pulmonologist and then an oncologist in Grass Valley, where he and his wife Sandie live. The diagnosis: Stage IIIA lung cancer, with a large right upper lobe mass. The oncologist ruled out surgery, determining that Hinze would require his entire right lung to be removed (a pneumonectomy) and probably would not survive surgery, but did suggest radiation as a palliative treatment plan. The Hinzes decided to get a second opinion and requested a referral to UC Davis.
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Tura Jenkins — Portrait of a cancer survivor
Tura Jenkins was already emotionally shaken from a family death when she was diagnosed with Stage III endometrial cancer. Treatment was aggressive and included chemotherapy, external and internal radiation treatments, and blood transfusions.
William Olive — Back on the job after participation in sarcoma clinical trial
William Olive, a deputy sheriff in Oroville, first noticed numbness, tingling and pain down his leg. His personal physician, a member of his SWAT team, told Olive that the lump wasn’t normal, and ordered scans. The scans showed a soft tissue mass on his buttock near his hip.
Jim Otto — Football legend tackles a new opponent
The Jim Otto personifies the term "survivor." A member of the original Oakland Raiders of 1960, Otto played in 210 consecutive games, 308 all told, over a legendary career that took him to the Hall of Fame. Now Otto is tackling one of the most formidable opponents he has ever encountered: prostate cancer.
Lea Spencer — "We can't learn from each other if we don't share"
Lea Spencer was diagnosed with acute non lymphocytic leukemia at the age of 36. Fighting for a chance to see her son, then 16, graduate from high school, and her daughter, 10 begin middle school, the Sacramento woman sought out a clinical trial at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. Now in her 50s, Spencer not only has watched both her son and daughter graduate from high school and attend college, she also has welcomed four grandchildren into the family.
Rollie Swingle — "Being in clinical trials has kept me alive and healthy"
Rollie Swingle was diagnosed with Stage IV prostate cancer in January 2004, with lesions detected on his spine, ribs and right pelvis. Rollie joined a clinical trial of a new prostate cancer treatment and for the next six years enjoyed life as he had always done. Recently, signs of the disease had returned; Rollie is fighting back by taking part in another clinical trial.
Pam Whitehead — "Cancer brought me to who I am today"
Pam Whitehead was 35 years old when she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. In the years since, the Sacramento architect has become an active volunteer with the Lance Armstrong Foundation. She recently won a $5,000 award from the foundation that allowed her to start a fitness program for cancer survivors at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Lana Young — grateful after minimally invasive surgery
Lana Young hadn’t experienced any type of injury or pain before a nagging pain crept into her back. When the pain began affecting her daily activities – a dedicated runner, she took her kids out every day in the jogging stroller – she visited her primary care physician. Laboratory work, ultrasound and a CT scan at UC Davis Health System revealed a cyst on her pancreas.