Meet Our Doctors: Christina Yeon, M.D.
December 18, 2017 | by Travis Marshall
Christina Yeon, M.D., was just a child when she came to U.S. from Seoul, South Korea. Her family — including her mother, father and brother — settled in Riverside, California.
“My parents came here first while my brother and I lived with an aunt and uncle for a year,” Yeon said. “I was only 5 years old at the time, so I definitely grew up as a Southern California kid.”
Even at a young age, Yeon had her mind set on becoming a doctor. “From the moment I started medical school, oncology was the field I wanted to be in,” she said. At first, she considered studying on the East Coast, but ultimately decided that UCLA had everything she was looking for, closer to home.
Today, Yeon lives in La Crescenta with her husband and their three children, and she works as a medical oncologist/hematologist and assistant clinical professor in the Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research at City of Hope’s 25,000 square-foot South Pasadena facility, which is home to a team of medical oncologists/hematologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons and endocrinologists.
I went into medicine thinking I would become a cancer surgeon, but I was drawn to medical oncology because of the long-standing relationships we get to have with our patients,” she said. “The medical oncologist is like the quarterback of the cancer team, and I get to follow my patients for their whole journey.”
“City of Hope has multiple community practice sites, and ours is closest to the main campus,” she said. “We have great affiliation with our physician partners in Duarte, and our patients can easily be referred if there’s a clinical trial that’s only available on the main campus.”
Like all five medical oncologists/hematologists at South Pasadena, Yeon sees and treats all types of patients with hematology (both benign and malignant) and oncology diagnoses. Additionally, she has a special interest and focus on breast cancer. During the final two years of her fellowship, she dedicated her efforts on breast cancer research and clinical trials. “That gave me a lot of experience and knowledge in all the nuances of the disease,” she said. “Breast cancer affects so many patients, and thankfully there’s a huge amount of research, new drugs and innovative new therapies that allow us to have a really positive impact on patients’ lives.”
As the “quarterback” of the oncology team, Yeon said that being there for her patients — not just providing treatment, but also helping improve the quality of their lives and offering support — is among the most important parts of her job. It’s something she experienced firsthand when both of her parents passed away from cancer.
“Both of my parents died of malignancy after I become an oncologist, and I was able to help them through their cancer journeys,” she said. “It’s important for me to be able to share with my patients that I not only have the doctor’s perspective, but also the patient’s family member perspective in going through this journey.”
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