City of Hope Rose Parade float highlights cancer patients’ tomorrows

December 31, 2015
Medical “miracles” give cancer patients new chance to “find their adventure”
Denise Heady
[email protected]

DUARTE, Calif. — For people who have battled cancer, every new day is a new adventure. No one knows that better than the cancer doctor, nurse researcher and five cancer patients who will be riding City of Hope’s float at the 127th Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day.

The 2016 float, themed “The Miracle of Science with Soul,” represents the present and the future for City of Hope and its patients. Through lifesaving therapies and research, patients get the opportunity to follow their dreams — and to find their adventure. Through their quest for new treatments and cures, doctors and caregivers get the opportunity to pursue their own adventure by transforming the future of cancer care for patients worldwide.   

This year, five patients, along with a neurosurgeon/researcher and a nurse/researcher, will be celebrating his or her next adventure, made possible by City of Hope. Each rider’s adventure is different: One finds adventure in mountain-climbing – with plans to climb Africa’s tallest peak; another in surfing; and still another in lifesaving brain surgery and research.

Their stories:

Emily Taylor: Three years ago, 28-year-old Taylor was getting ready to celebrate her second wedding anniversary when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. A former college athlete, the Woodland Hills, California, resident had led a healthy and active lifestyle and had never smoked. After eight rounds of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, she is now in remission and getting ready for her next adventure: becoming a mom.

Bob Dickey: Diagnosed at age 44 with advanced multiple myeloma — a disease usually occurring in people 70 and older — Dickey doesn’t let his disease stop him from living life to the fullest. Months after receiving a stem cell transplant in 2011, he climbed Mount Whitney; in January, he will take on Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's tallest peak — while still in treatment.

Allisa Miller: Twenty-nine years old and the mother of a  2-year-old daughter when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, Miller was determined to do whatever she could to fight the disease. She came to City of Hope soon after her diagnosis, receiving the institution’s unique blend of patient-focused care and leading-edge treatment. Today, Miller is in remission and thrilled to have the adventure of riding City of Hope’s Rose Parade float.

Alex Tung: An avid surfer, Tung will be celebrating his new one-year "birthday" in January, marking a year since he received a lifesaving cord blood cell transplant to help fight his leukemia. The 40-year-old from Cerritos waited six months to find a bone marrow match, but because of his Chinese heritage, the search proved more difficult than expected. Instead, he signed up for a clinical trial at City of Hope that used umbilical cord blood. The transplant was successful, and he’s counting the days until he can surf again.  

Anya Shah: Before being diagnosed with leukemia at just 8 years old, Anya spent her free time participating in her favorite activity — gymnastics — in her hometown of La Habra Heights. She also wanted to one day become president of the United States. Three years later, Anya is now in remission and has decided on a new career path. "After going through all of this, my priorities have changed. I realized that I want to treat other kids with cancer and be a pediatric oncologist."

Rahul Jandial, M.D., Ph.D.: Jandial is both a neurosurgeon and scientist at City of Hope and will be riding the float with his patient Joan Rose-Hall. As a surgeon, he performs complex operations to remove cancers in the brain and nervous system. As a scientist, Jandial leads a team of researchers in the quest to better understand how breast cancers spread to the brain – and how to stop them. Jandial also leads surgical missions across Central-South America and Eastern Europe to perform and teach pediatric brain surgery.

Betty Ferrell, Ph.D., R.N.: A palliative care expert and nurse researcher, Ferrell is internationally known for her expertise in pain management and quality of life. She was recently named one of the 30 most influential leaders in hospice and palliative care medicine — the medical specialty focused on relieving suffering and improving quality of life for people with serious illness — by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

About City of Hope
City of Hope is an independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Designated as a comprehensive cancer center, the highest recognition bestowed by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is also a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, with research and treatment protocols that advance care throughout the nation. City of Hope’s main hospital is located in Duarte, California, just northeast of Los Angeles, with community clinics in southern California. It is ranked as one of "America's Best Hospitals" in cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a pioneer in the fields of bone marrow transplantation and genetics. For more information, visit or follow City of Hope on  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Flickr.