“My wife felt energized when she saw thousands of people at Walk for Hope. It’s not just about raising money for breast cancer research, but also supporting the people still in the fight.” — Michael Rorman
Michael Rorman lost his wife, Elizabeth, to breast cancer in 2003. Just a few months later, even though he was still grieving, he stepped back on to the City of Hope campus in Duarte, Calif., for the Los Angeles Walk for Hope to Cure Breast Cancer.
He raised awareness about breast cancer and City of Hope through Walk. He and his Walk teammates also gathered much-needed donations for breast cancer programs. But most of all, he walked because he knew his wife would have been there — and because breast cancer patients need to know that others care about them.
|Michael Rorman walks for his late wife, Elizabeth. (Photo by Darrin S. Joy) |
“She was so excited to do this event,” Rorman said. Since then, he has participated in every Los Angeles Walk but one.
Rorman now works as associate director of corporate real estate at City of Hope. There was a time, though, when he traveled to City of Hope for much different reasons.
In November 1996, Elizabeth Rorman was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer at age 30. Juggling the care of their boys — Ben, then 2 years old, and Josh, then age 3 — the couple assessed their options.
Fortunately, the couple’s health plan agreed to cover a stem cell transplant at City of Hope. “We had always known that City of Hope was well-known for research and treatment, and we felt comfortable about going there,” he said.
During her remission, they began participating in Walk. Cancer recurred within a few years, though, and she returned to City of Hope for critical brain and lung surgeries and chemotherapy before cancer eventually claimed her life.
“Thank goodness we had treatment here,” Michael Rorman said. “I saw the difference between many other cancer institutions and City of Hope ... We were at the place that if we were to have any comfort or cure, it would take place here.”
Rorman then renamed his Walk team to “Team Big Time” in her honor. “My wife’s favorite saying was ‘big time,’” he said. “She enjoyed life ‘big time.’”
The energized team boasted more than 200 members in 2003. To date, Team Big Time has raised more than $32,000 for City of Hope breast cancer programs.
Another legacy also continues: the annual Elizabeth Rorman Memorial Blood Drive for City of Hope, held among residents of the Rormans’ neighborhood in Rossmoor every February on Super Bowl Sunday, around the time of her birthday. She originally began the drive to benefit other City of Hope patients.
Her life also continues through her husband’s work. When a position came open at City of Hope in August, Rorman said his positive experiences made him jump at the opportunity to join the staff.
Said Rorman: “I’ve always wanted to be part of City of Hope.”