Whether they are marking their survival over cancer in years or decades, thousands of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation recipients and their families, friends, former caregivers and donors will gather to celebrate life during City of Hope’s 33rd annual “Celebration of Life” Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation (HCT) Reunion on May 1.
Stephen J. Forman, M.D., the Francis and Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation and chair of the Department of Hematology & HCT will emcee the event, welcoming keynote speaker and Dodgers legend Tommy Davis.
|Dodgers legend and former manager Tommy Lasorda signs autographs at the 2008 “Celebration of Life” event. (Photo by Thomas Brown)|
During a day of emotional moments, some of the most touching likely will occur during the morning press conference where — for the first time — two City of Hope transplant patients will meet the donors who saved their lives.
This year, Catherine Fuller, a pediatric intensive care nurse from Los Angeles who was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia and underwent a bone marrow transplant in 2007, will meet her donor, Patricia Peoples, an occupational therapist who will be flying in from her home in Norcross, Ga.
Kennedy Kraus, 10, from Carlsbad, Calif., was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia two years ago and received a lifesaving bone marrow transplant in 2007. She will meet her donor, 49-year-old Robert Benz, who will fly in from his native Germany with his wife and daughter.
At the reunion’s conclusion, survivors will gather with their friends, family and caregivers under an enormous balloon arch for the annual group photograph — a favored tra-dition meant to document another year of life celebrated.
City of Hope has performed more than 9,200 transplant procedures since the program’s inception in 1976, and the institution maintains one of the largest and most successful programs in the U.S.