Shauna Meyer

A lasting inheritance: City of Hope replaced my family’s fear with hope

For Shauna Meyer Reimers, City of Hope’s groundbreaking cancer research has had a multigenerational impact. The Laguna Beach, California, native shares her story.

The first time I was at City of Hope was as a baby, when my mom took me to her doctor appointments.  I was 7 years old when she died. It was a tragedy for our family because my grandma lost both her daughters; my mom died at age 35, and my aunt died at 21. After my mom passed away, my father, Michael Meyer, raised money to help fund research in the clinical cancer genetics department because he was so impressed by her care. The Construction Industries Alliance for City of Hope named him a Spirit of Life® honoree in 1997. So, City of Hope has been part of my family for a long time.

About 24 years ago, I was a new mom with a baby of my own, living in Colorado, when City of Hope came back into my life.

They told me there was genetic testing available for the type of cancer my mother had, partly due to my father’s fundraising efforts, and said they’d like me to take the test. At the time, I was one of the first people to be tested, which says to me that City of Hope isn’t just advanced in its cancer care, but that it’s the premier institution for cancer.

I came out to California, and everyone at City of Hope was so focused and committed. They had so much compassion. They cared about fighting cancer like their own lives depended on it. 

I tested positive for a BRCA-1 gene mutation, which is associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.  My doctors gave me my options and enrolled me in a clinical trial for a year. After the trial ended, they recommended I get a preventive double mastectomy and hysterectomy. It wasn’t a hard decision for me; I wanted to see my son grow up. After losing my mom when I was 7, I’d been fearful that the same thing would happen to me and I wouldn’t be alive to be with my son. I knew City of Hope was taking care of me, and that helped me manage my fear and improve my quality of life.

At the time, a preventive double mastectomy and hysterectomy were practically unheard of. It was considered “drastic.” When my insurance company wouldn’t cover my mastectomy reconstruction because it was deemed elective and cosmetic, my City of Hope doctors went to bat for me. They went to court and fought for me. And we won. This landmark case was one of the first of its kind and changed the law of preventive procedures in a way that would help many cancer patients going forward. I take zero credit. I was simply fortunate enough to be a patient in the care of a brilliant City of Hope team.

From fear to hope

Meyer Reimers moved forward in life, living her dream of watching her son, Brigg, grow up. Then, in April 2021, she went to the ER with intense nausea and pain. The doctor there diagnosed her with primary peritoneal cancer.  

As soon as I knew I had cancer, I was back at City of Hope. There wasn’t a question; there’s no other institution I would go to. I want to shout it from the rooftops: If your loved one has cancer, you have to go to City of Hope.

I went to City of Hope in Duarte for surgery. I was staying with family in Laguna Beach, and my surgeon told me there was a City of Hope location nearby in Newport Beach where I could go for chemotherapy. I’m in remission now, but I still go to City of Hope|  Newport Beach Fashion Island every week for blood work and scans to make sure the cancer is not coming back.

My physician there is Tingting Tan, M.D., Ph.D. The care I’ve received from Dr. Tan and everyone on my team is exemplary. I’m moved not only by their skills and abilities, but also how hard they worked to keep me comfortable.

At one point, I was in the infusion chair for seven hours every week. My chemo nurse, Linda, could finish my sentences. Everyone there is so kind, and Dr. Tan would personally call me if I ever needed anything. I felt so supported, not only because they were helping me feel well and keeping me alive, but because they had so much compassion. I felt cared for physically and emotionally.

Meyer Reimers has moved from Colorado to Laguna Niguel to be close to City of Hope for her cancer care. She’s happy that Orange County residents will have the same world-class care she has received, close to home.

As the population grows here in Orange County, there are going to be more and more people who are diagnosed with cancer. And there’s going to be more and more people like me who live because City of Hope Orange County is here for us.

City of Hope has always been by my side. They have saved my life. I've been to many medical centers and seen many doctors, and I've never experienced anything like the expertise and compassion at City of Hope.

Visit to learn more. To make an appointment, call 888-333-HOPE (4673).