Inspiring Stories: Vicky Graham has to remind herself she has lung cancer

December 3, 2014 | by City of Hope

Vicky Graham defies the odds most lung cancer patients face and will  ride City of Hope's Rose Parade float to share her inspiring story Vicky Graham, right, continues to defy the odds of many lung cancer patients and will ride City of Hope's Rose Parade float with her husband, Michael Graham, and her daughter Amy Boyd, who became her caregiver during treatment. (Photo courtesy of Vicky Graham)

On Jan. 1, 2015, six City of Hope patients who have journeyed through cancer will welcome the new year with their loved ones atop City of Hope's Tournament of Roses Parade float. The theme of the float is "Made Possible by HOPE." The theme of the parade is "Inspiring Stories."

By Vicky Graham

In August of 2007, I began testing for what I thought was just a swollen gland. Little did I know that after several frustrating months, tests and doctors later, that I’d be diagnosed with stage 3b nonsmall cell adenocarcinoma – lung cancer.  But, by the grace of God, my wonderful endocrinologist sent me to City of Hope for an evaluation by Dr. Karen Reckamp, co-director, Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program. Dr. Reckamp was determined to help me, even though my symptoms didn’t look anything like lung cancer.

I was immediately scheduled for testing at  City of Hope. I lived quite a distance from City of Hope, so all my appointments were stacked into one day when possible. From the moment my husband and I set foot on the campus, we were impressed. Every staff member was polite and helpful, from the receptionists to the doctors. We often laughed to ourselves that we were being treated like we were George and Laura Bush! We never had to anxiously wait weeks for appointments or to get test results. Most times, the doctors themselves called me at home to discuss results and next steps.

From that first day, we have never once regretted choosing to stay with City of Hope. We have been so blessed by the care and concern of every doctor, nurse, technician, receptionist – everyone employed at City of Hope. We knew that choosing treatment at City of Hope meant a daily commute of 65 miles each way, five days a week for eight weeks of concurrent chemo and radiation.

There was no doubt in our mind, this was the right choice.

I was in remission for four and a half years and then original the tumor returned. At my surgeon, Dr. Dan Raz’s recommendation, I underwent a lobectomy of half of my right lung. Six months ago, I was diagnosed with a third reoccurrence. Now, at City of Hope, I am on a clinical trial and receive infusion once every three weeks. In six months, I’ve had a 25 percent reduction in tumor size.

There are days I have to remind myself I am living with cancer, but by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, He has blessed us with an amazing team of doctors and nurses at City of Hope. They give me hope and encouragement time and time again. City of Hope has made it possible that I’m alive and well. I have been able to attend all four of our children’s weddings over these past seven years.

Now, I will be able share all they have done for me and my family. Riding the City of Hope float in the Rose Parade is an honor. I am reminded often, that THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE, just like it reads on the entrance sign at City of Hope.

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Read more about City of Hope's Rose Parade float.

Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). City of Hope staff will explain what's required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.

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