The mission continues: Survivor seeks a cure for bladder cancer, raises millions

March 2, 2016 | by Denise Heady



Sumanta K. Pal, M.D. and Frank di Bella Sumanta K. Pal, M.D. and Frank di Bella



When Frank di Bella was diagnosed with advanced bladder cancer in 2011, his doctor said that he only had a few months to live. Visits to several more institutions for additional opinions resulted in the same message. One after another, doctors told him that because the cancer had already spread to his lungs, ribs and spine, there wasn’t much they could do for him.

But Frank did not let that derail him. Despite his grim prognosis, he continued to look for a more hopeful path — a path that led him to medical oncologist Sumanta K. Pal, M.D., co-director of City of Hope's Kidney Cancer Program and head of the kidney and bladder cancer disease teams.

“Dr. Pal was real honest with me,” said Frank. “He told me there wasn’t a cure for my disease but that he would keep me alive for at least four years and hopefully, during this time, more progress would be made in finding a cure.” 

Incredibly, nearly five years have passed since his diagnosis. Frank, now 71, credits Pal and the staff at City of Hope with keeping him alive and well far beyond his initial prognosis.

As a thank-you for extending his life, Frank has made it his mission to support Pal and City of Hope’s ongoing research efforts. So the certified public accountant recently held the second annual "Let’s Be Frank About Cancer" black-tie gala, which raises funds for City of Hope’s bladder cancer research, led by Pal.

The event, which was attended by distinguished leaders such as former Prime Minister of Yugoslavia Milan Panic, raised more than $2.6 million. The money will help fund Pal’s research, which is focused on finding ways to better understand how cancers develop and metastasize, better predict cancer recurrence and improve treatments with fewer negative side effects.

“I am so honored that so many people came to support such an amazing doctor, my friend, Dr. Pal!” said Frank. “Thanks to these contributions from private individuals and local businesses, City of Hope and Dr. Pal can continue to provide the ultimate care, cutting-edge research and, most importantly, hope to patients like me.”


Learn more about City of Hope's Kidney Cancer Program. If you are looking for a second opinion or consultation about your treatment, request an appointment online or contact us at 800-826-HOPE. Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.

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