Hope is always with her

Hope is always with her

Elizabeth “Beth” Coombs recalls vividly how she felt the day she was declared cancer-free in 2022.

“My emotions were indescribable,” Coombs said. “The joy of no more chemo or anything else was overwhelming. It was a sense of relief, but at the same time a sense of shock. Words don’t even have the power to explain the feelings I had. They were so vast.”

New tattoo has special meaning for this City of Hope grateful patient.

Elizabeth "Beth" Coombs

Sometimes art can express things that words cannot, and her new tattoo serves as both a lasting reminder of her gratitude and a mantra as she moves forward, Coombs said.

The word “hope” is tattooed on the inside of her forearm in graceful cursive. The “e” forms the shape of a cancer ribbon, with a heart at the bottom, and the blue ink represents colon cancer awareness. 

When Coombs was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in 2020, her team of City of Hope experts quickly developed a personalized treatment plan for her. Following preoperative chemotherapy, surgeons successfully removed six tumors, and a closely monitored course of “cleanup” chemo helped ensure any remaining cancer cells in her body were eliminated.

Her medical oncologist, Misagh Karimi, M.D. a colon cancer specialist at City of Hope Orange County Lennar Foundation Cancer Center in Irvine and the director of clinical operations at City of Hope | Newport Beach Fashion Island, delivered the good news in January 2022: There was no detectable evidence of cancer in her body.

Now, the Laguna Hills, California, resident dedicates at least one day a month to doing something for herself and enjoying life with friends and family.

Coombs got the tattoo during one of those outings. After attending a taping of “The Late, Late Show with James Corden” in Los Angeles, the friend she went with suggested they get a tattoo. The pair found a nearby tattoo shop to their liking and were tattooed that same evening. Coombs — whose only other tattoo was a unicorn she got at age 18 — had actually been toying with the idea for a while and already had the design in mind after seeing a similar one online.

Coombs said having a visible reminder of her physical and emotional healing was well worth any fleeting discomfort.

“I got the tattoo because City of Hope saved my life,” she said.

City of Hope offers renowned gastrointestinal cancer care in Orange County, including access to state-of-the-art colon cancer screening, through City of Hope Orange County Lennar Foundation Cancer Center — the region’s most advanced comprehensive cancer center — and our four-location Orange County Regional Cancer Care Network — two in Newport Beach, one in Huntington Beach and one in Irvine.

To make an appointment for screening or treatment, call 888-333-HOPE (4673).