Meet our patients
With their stories of strength, hope and courage, cancer patients 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.
When Barbara Mooney was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in October 1999, she didn’t think she would see her grandkids grow up. Now, she babysits her three great-grandchildren. “I would never have dreamed of it,” Mooney said. “Let me tell you, it is a blessing.”
Cindy Baumeister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she took on the diagnosis with the same focus and energy she always gave to every aspect of her life. Following surgery and chemotherapy, she participated in clinical trials. “I feel awesome and am doing well,” Baumeister said.
Rollie Swingle was diagnosed with stage IV prostate cancer in 2004. Due to the late stage of disease, his doctor urged him to join a clinical trial of a new treatment. “Some people think it’s risky to participate in trials,” he said. “For me, being in clinical trials has kept me alive and healthy. I honestly don’t think I would be here today without them.”
Elizabeth Lacasia celebrated an important milestone — the 10-year anniversary of her lung cancer diagnosis. “I’m very fortunate to still be here,” she said. Through an innovative clinical trial, she received a combination treatment and is doing well. Lacasia is passionate about helping other lung cancer patients, sharing her experience and perspective on battling the disease.
John Dorton lives each day with a sense of adventure, curiosity and hope for more to come. He tackled his lung cancer diagnosis several years ago with the same spirit. Diagnosed with non-small-cell lung cancer, he was happy to participate in clinical trials for the benefit of not only himself but other cancer patients.
It’s been nearly five years since her cancer diagnosis, and Lisa Peltier is loving life. Peltier credits her good health to the state-of-the-art cancer care and expertise she received through the UC Davis Cancer Care Network. Through the network she received expertise from the Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center in Truckee and participated in two clinical trials. “I’m doing great,” she said. “I feel good and am glad to be back working full-time.”
Toni Carter is living a full life – she enjoys traveling and spending time with her three grandchildren. It’s hard to imagine that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. Carter participated in a clinical trial for accelerated partial breast radiation. Her participation was instrumental in providing future breast cancer patients with the needed information for optimal breast radiation therapy. Today, Carter is cancer-free, enjoys helping patients who are undergoing cancer treatment and volunteers in the children’s ward at UC Davis.
Valeriy Sukach is a fighter. Ten years ago he was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer that is almost universally fatal. But with the help of good medicine, a strong faith and prayers from his family and friends, Sukach beat the odds and is now cancer-free.
John Gallagher has had a remarkable recovery after treatment for throat cancer. Gallagher said he’s enjoying life and making the most of each day. Less than a year after his treatment, Gallagher climbed Mount Whitney in Sequoia National Park, the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states. His goal is to climb all 15 of California’s 14,000-foot peaks.
Joanne Wellman’s mother and paternal aunt both had colon cancer. So when Wellman, a health educator, experienced vague and atypical gastrointestinal distress, she knew to report both her symptoms and family history to her physician. A resulting colonoscopy revealed a a tumor in her small intestine.
Melvin Florencio Lorenzo was an engineering student at UC Davis when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. While undergoing intensive treatment, Lorenzo not only finished school, but flourished. Now a Ph.D. student, he is working towards a promising future as a cancer scientist.
Tura Jenkins was diagnosed with Stage III endometrial cancer. Her aggressive cancer treatment, along with deaths in the family, played a toll on her emotionally. Through this, Tura became a pro at finding ways to keep her spirits up. Regarding her health-care team, "I consider them all family." Tura is a survivor with a positive and hopeful outlook at life.
Our young patients
Meet some of the pediatric patients who inspire us with their courage and strength.
By the age of 10, Francesca Arnaudo already had survived two cancer diagnoses — along with surgeries and months of chemotherapy and radiation. When she was 13, Francesca fought another type of cancer seen primarily in adults. She pulled through with cheer, tenacity and a positive attitude. The 21-year-old is now cancer-free and a student at a local junior college in her hometown.
When Shane Rogers had his last chemotherapy treatment in 2015, his mother never imagined he’d be playing recreational football two years later. Shane was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 8. The side effects from his treatment were difficult, but with hard work and physical therapy, he recovered. Today, Shane is in remission and stays active, doing tricks on his scooter, fishing and helping others learn from his experience.
When she was just three-and-a-half years old, Iryss Holliday was diagnosed with advanced kidney disease – specifically, a rare form of Wilms’ tumor. Iryss had one of the most widespread cases seen in the pediatric field. Throughout numerous treatments, Iryss maintained a positive attitude and came through with flying colors. Today, Iryss is in remission and doing great. She is just like any other nine-year-old – she loves drawing, singing, making crafts and watching funny videos.