Pediatric patient returns years later to work at City of Hope

September 3, 2019 | by Michael Easterling

Gregory Osborn Featured | City of Hope Gregory Osborn as a young ALL patient.
“If you ask me to describe City of Hope in a single word, it would be ‘home.’ City of Hope is my second home.”
 
It makes sense. City of Hope has been a part of Gregory Osborn’s life since he was a child and patient.
 
Osborn, who now works at City of Hope as an associate clinical billing analyst, was diagnosed at age 4 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). There was no history of cancer in his family.
 
“I had a lot of pain in my legs, and my parents assumed it was growing pains,” recalled Osborn. “But my pain persisted to the point where I was crying a lot and they knew it was something more.” His pediatrician ran blood tests that indicated leukemia. It was his aunt, Phyllis Burch, who also works at City of Hope, who insisted he come to City of Hope for treatment. Burch is the administrative director in the Department of Radiation Oncology.
 
Osborn became a patient of James Miser, M.D., who was instrumental in establishing the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology in 1995. Miser returned to City of Hope earlier this year and is a clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics.
 
“Dr. Miser is a wonderful person,” said Osborn. During treatment, Osborn had to drop out of kindergarten (which he eventually repeated). He began undergoing chemotherapy once a week. By year two he could be treated on an outpatient basis, with a port and catheter to deliver his medication.
 
Greg Osborn | City of Hope Osborn today.
“It became a nightly ritual between me and my mom, her putting me on the counter and adjusting and cleaning my catheter,” Osborn said. “She would ask me if I was feeling OK. When it was time for bed, she would safety-pin the catheter to my shirt so it wouldn’t move around while I was sleeping. Pretty soon, my whole family got into the act and started wearing safety pins on their shirts. That was pretty cool.”

‘My Nurses Were Out of This World’

Osborn said his care experience at City of Hope was extremely positive, even for a young boy.
 
“The weird thing is, I don’t have memories of this being a bad experience,” Osborn said about being at City of Hope. “Sure, I was tired and nauseous. There were a lot of spinal taps and the drawing of blood, and I cried a lot. But the people taking care of me were phenomenal. My nurses were out of this world. My doctors never failed. The fact that I don’t have to look back with bad memories is I think a testament to City of Hope’s approach to patient care, especially pediatric patients like me.”

Helping Advance Research

Osborn speaks very highly of Miser, as well as Claudia Herrera, who was part of his care team back in the mid-’90s. Today, Herrera is a clinical research assistant in the Childhood Cancer Survivorship Clinic, which is under the medical direction of Saro Armenian, D.O., M.P.H.
 
Osborn has seen Herrera as a patient of the survivorship clinic for the last six years. Osborn said it is his way of keeping his own health in check, but also of giving back to City of Hope.
 
“I get my annual checkup and reassurance that I’m still healthy, no recurrence,” he said. “But I know I am also helping Dr. Armenian. They are studying the long-term effects that chemo and leukemia had on my body. I’ve learned a lot about how to take care of myself and what to look for. And I’m able to provide them with useful data that can help others in the future.”
 
Osborn joined City of Hope as an employee three years ago for his first job out of college, in clinical research billing, where he manages the finances of clinical trials for industry sponsors.
 
“I make sure the money goes where it needs to,” Osborn said.
 
It’s no secret, though, to his boss or co-workers, that he longs to go to nursing school, to deliver the next generation of cancer cures and care like the kind he received.
 
“I’d like to be a pediatric oncology nurse and come back to City of Hope and take care of sick kids like my nurses took care of me,” he said. “That’s my dream.”

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