Inspiring Stories: In Rose Parade, couple celebrates love and 2 triumphs

December 8, 2014 | by City of Hope

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 Rose Parade is "Inspiring Stories."

By Evan Braggs

Evan Bragg and Melina Fregoso were first friends, now soul mates. And they're grateful to City of Hope  for the care that helped them overcome cancer. Evan Braggs and Melina Fregoso were first friends, now soul mates. And they credit City of Hope for giving them a future beyond cancer. On New Year's Day, they will ride the City of Hope Rose Parade float together. (Photo Courtesy of Evan Braggs)

City of Hope is a place of just that, “a City of Hope.”

It was June of 2004, when I became a patient at City of Hope. At the age of 19, I was diagnosed with a rare blood disease called aplastic anemia. Not having had as much as a broken bone or a need for any type of surgery, I had to be cursed with a blood disorder, I thought.

What I labeled as a curse turned out to be the most humbling experience and lesson I’ve learned to this day. I was blessed to have the opportunity to meet a City filled with wonderful and extraordinary people who, in some cases, have influenced some of my adulthood decisions.

City of Hope has provided me with not just a second chance at life, but much more than that. After receiving a successful bone marrow transplant in June of 2005 from an unrelated donor, I had a different outlook on life.

Now, I never sweat the small things and I always remember to do my best to give to others what has been given to me … hope. Whether it’s just a smile in passing, simple words of encouragement or a conversation, I make it a point to instill hope in others.

In the later portion of 2013, going into 2014, my self-proclaimed hope duties would be tested in a very different way. A friend at the time, Melina Fregoso, was undergoing testing after noticing a lump on her breast. Not long after, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer at 29 years old. I knew at City of Hope she would be in the best place possible.

City of Hope did exactly for Melina (now my girlfriend) what they did for me. Not only is she now a breast cancer survivor but she is also a much stronger and more hopeful individual. The hope, chance, care, support, love and optimism that City of Hope provided both Melina and me were something for which we’ll both be forever grateful.

We will always do our best to instill and push others to hope just the same.

In June of 2015, I will be celebrating my 10-year bone marrow transplant anniversary.

Thank you, City of Hope, as it would not have been possible without all of the wonderful people who make it the true City of Hope that it is.

**

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.

Melina Fregoso, 30, and Evan Bragg, 29, both beat cancer with the help of City of Hope. When Melina Fregoso was diagnosed with breast cancer at 29, her good friend Evan Braggs recommended City of Hope. He had been saved with a bone marrow transplant there at 20.

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