It’s been more than 25 years, but the Tadros family still remembers the anxiety of then 3-year-old Bishoy falling ill, and learning that the Egyptian boy had acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common type of childhood cancer. But they also remember the hope they mustered from within — and the hope they received from a medical center thousands of miles away.
“I had been very feverish with signs of infection for a significant amount of time, and the intuition of my father, who was formerly a doctor, told him something was wrong,” said Tadros, now 30. Visits to a pediatrician and a medical center in Egypt gave rise to the ALL diagnosis, followed by the beginning of treatment.
But the family was not satisfied with his care, and asked their small network in the U.S. to research treatment options. Their contacts, who had spent a couple of years on the West Coast, encouraged them to check out City of Hope.
Bishoy (center) stands with his family (left) and CIty of Hope medical staff in the early 1990s
“My dad was 32, my mom was 27 and pregnant, and they didn’t know what to do,” Tadros said. “Their backs were against the wall, and they decided to leave everyone and everything they knew to move to L.A. on the advice that City of Hope would be the best place for me to be treated.”
His father, Guirguis Tadros, added: “The care was really good from the doctors, nurses and social workers. They gave us confidence that they were doing their best. When we left, Bishoy was in remission, though he had side effects from the treatments.”
The family moved to New York because Guirguis, a Coptic Orthodox priest, was called to serve a young parish on Long Island. Tadros continued to receive chemotherapy at what is now Northwell Health on Long Island for three years. Since then, he has been free of the disease.
However, there have been other medical problems.
On his 13th birthday, Tadros underwent brain surgery to remove what turned out to be a venous hemangioma. He said his medical team thought that this rare, slow-growing, benign tumor might have been a late side effect of his former treatment. To this day, his doctors have continued to be very cautious in assessing and treating any abnormalities, including a benign growth on his thyroid that resulted in partial removal of that gland about five years ago.
Bishoy early on during treatment
Yet these setbacks have only served to make him more determined to set and achieve ambitious goals.
“Making the football team in high school after a failed try the year prior was the first big one,” he said, “because it allowed me to believe I could be one of the guys, and that I was not physically weaker because of my treatment.”
He went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in accounting from SUNY Geneseo, and later an MBA with dual concentrations from Fordham University, And, he believes his second biggest achievement was accepting an offer to work on the trading desk at a premier Wall Street institution.
Then, about three years ago, he took on new challenges when he started running as part of his exercise routine.
“The thought of participating in an official race was so far-fetched at the time,” Tadros said. “I should have known better, because the minute doubt creeps in, an overwhelming sense of determination takes over in me. Shortly thereafter, I signed up for my first 5K, and then the floodgates opened. One half marathon turned into 12, then two triathlons and then a Half Ironman – a 70-mile race that includes swimming, biking and running.”
So he set his sights even higher.
“After completing all of those races and, in particular, the Half Ironman, I felt so empowered that I wanted to use my story to help others,” he said. “I joined The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training program, and put together a campaign to raise $50,000 for cancer research. As of today, my team has raised nearly $45,000.”
In addition, a friend passed his story on to NASDAQ, which invited him to ring the stock market’s closing bell on Oct. 31 last year. That same weekend, he was asked to speak at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s New York/New Jersey Blood Cancer Conference, where he told doctors and researchers about his medical challenges, and shared the message behind his fundraising campaign, that “the comeback is always greater than the setback.”
Bishoy at City of Hope
“I didn’t used to think my story was a big deal, but now I want people to see that City of Hope and Northwell Health played a big role in helping me to recover and move on,” he said. “I want to go back to City of Hope to visit and be a figure of inspiration for what families there are going through now with their kids, showing them that they too can overcome barriers.”
You can visit Tadros’s Team In Training fundraising campaign here.
April 24, 2019 | By
Michael Easterling and Samantha Bonar
City of Hope’s bone marrow transplant program recently performed the procedure on its 15,000th patient, a remarkable milestone considering that the initiative started with just two physicians, three beds and guarded expectations in 1976.
The pediatric patients in treatment at City of Hope are unable to go to Disneyland, so on March 14 Disneyland came to them, at the fourth annual winter ToyFest held on City of Hope’s main campus in Duarte, California.