Since 1976, over 13,000 blood cancer patients from across the nation and around the world have undergone bone marrow, cord blood or stem-cell transplants at City of Hope – an independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases.
Located in the Los Angeles suburb of Duarte, City of Hope treats cancer patients with immunotherapy. Since 1976, the institution has hosted an annual reunion for transplant survivors. What began as a simple birthday cake with one candle to symbolize a patient’s first year cancer-free is now a huge picnic that draws more than 4,000 survivors, donors, families and doctors.
City of Hope invites transplant recipients and their families to attend the annual “Celebration of Life” on the Duarte campus. The day also features performances by former patients who entertain fellow survivors and their families.
The highlights of these annual reunions are the patient-donor meetings. Many recipients are overwhelmed with curiosity and gratitude and feel like it’s a dream come true to meet the strangers that saved their lives.
“[The reunion] emphasizes we are all connected to each other and the many joys in life that a patient is able to experience once they have been cured by a transplant,” Stephen J. Forman, MD, said in a news story.
This year, the event includes a lecture commemorating the work and dedication of Gerhard Schmidt, MD, who joined City of Hope’s hematology program in 1977 and died of cancer in 1993. The lecture is directed at physicians and researchers aiming to advance stem-cell transplants by sharing their findings.
City of Hope is one of 47 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute. The 193-bed facility is also a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Recently U.S. News & World Report named City of Hope one of “America’s Best Hospitals.”