Blanca Mestre’s cancer was so advanced, her family doctor gave up.
“We went to discuss treatment, and got a lecture on how we all die someday” recalls Blanca’s daughter Angela. “He would only prescribe painkillers.
“It was the worst day of my life,” Angela says. “I had to tell my father that his wife of 39 years had heard her death sentence. I cried and cried.”
The amazing story of what happened next shows the impact your support of City of Hope has every day.
“Go! Go! Go!”
The story began more than a year before, when Blanca Mestre was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. When her doctors recommended a bone marrow transplant (BMT), she contacted City of Hope.
In January, 2005, Blanca and her family met with City of Hope’s Jasmine Zain, MD. They were impressed. “We were used to waiting weeks for a test,” Angela says.
“But Dr. Zain was ‘Go, go, go!’ She got things moving right away.”
But Blanca’s tumor resisted chemotherapy. As she grew weaker, Dr. Zain was forced to take Blanca off the BMT list.
Dr. Zain came up with new plans. For insurance reasons, they had to be approved by Blanca’s original doctor. But he refused. Instead, he gave what Angela called “the death lecture.”
“Boy, was Dr. Zain mad,” Angela says. “She called that doctor, and I don’t know what she said, but he finally consented.
“If it wasn’t for Dr. Zain fighting on my mom’s behalf, I don’t know what would have happened.”
“I can’t explain it”
Blanca was approved for a clinical drug trial, but soon proved too weak even for that.
At this point, Dr. Zain said, Blanca “was at heaven’s gate.” But Mark Kirschbaum, MD — City of Hope’s director of new drug development and a lymphoma expert — had a suggestion: valproic acid. Blanca could take that while Dr. Zain devised a new plan.
A week later, Blanca was already feeling better. Subsequent CT scans showed her tumor shrinking: 25 percent smaller, then 54 percent.
In July 2006, a scan revealed the tumor was gone. “We were in shock,” Angela says. “Dr. Zain said. ‘I can’t explain it.’”
Today, Blanca still has no signs of cancer.
It is very important to note that valproic acid is no miracle cure. Much more study is needed before we know if Blanca’s case can be repeated.
“Dr. Zain, Dr. Kirschbaum, and their team didn’t just save her life, they fought for it,” Angela says.
“When they call it ‘City of Hope,’they mean it!”