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One foot in front of another

Orange County Personal Trainer Finds A New Source Of Strength In Breast Cancer Battle

As a lifelong athlete who enjoys long-distance running, Kandace McMenomy knows how to break down a challenge. Whether watching someone take their first steps, enduring the last leg of a grueling marathon, or facing the fight of your life against cancer, the basic mantra never changes: “One foot in front of the other.”

“Each day, you just take one day at a time,” said McMenomy, a personal trainer who was 30 years old and training for the Boston Marathon more than six years ago when she discovered a small lump in her armpit. She went to the doctor, conquered the marathon – and a short 10 days later, was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.

“Definitely I was shocked. How could a fit 30-year-old have breast cancer?” McMenomy said.

“From a physical, emotional, and mental standpoint, cancer treatment is very hard on the body. So, I just put my head down, listened to my doctors, made my appointments, and just kind of checked off one box after another as I went along.”

The treatments were intense, but McMenomy’s physical fitness and positive attitude got her through a lumpectomy that removed 17 lymph nodes, seven of which were cancerous; 12 rounds of chemotherapy, 38 rounds of radiation; lung complications; and hormone therapy.

It was worth the struggle when McMenomy eventually reached her five-year anniversary of being cancer- free. “I had a party with family and friends and clients, and it was great,” she remembers fondly. “And six months after that, I was diagnosed a second time with metastatic breast cancer.

“There were tumors all throughout my body,” she said.

Another obstacle, and a new hope

This time, McMenomy changed course and made an appointment with James Waisman, M.D. at City of Hope in Duarte for a second opinion.

“As soon as I met him, I knew he was going to be my doctor,” McMenomy said. “He’s calm. He’s warm. You feel like you are his only patient. He’s interested in your life. He takes the time and he wants to get to know you. You’re not just somebody walking in the door; he’s going to treat you – and off he goes. He is like family to me.”

As a trainer, McMenomy has always enjoyed helping others and inspiring them to reach their goals. This same spirit is what makes her feel so connected to the City of Hope breast cancer care team.

“I share this very genuinely: The care at City of Hope is amazing. Everybody is smiling,” McMenomy says. “The people who draw your blood, even the people at Starbucks, are all friendly and nice. I know we’re all human, of course; we’re all going to be in a bad mood sometimes.

“But I honestly don’t know if anybody is ever in a bad mood at City of Hope.”

Elevating cancer care in Orange County

As an Orange County resident, McMenomy said the hour-plus drive each way from her Laguna Beach home to Los Angeles took up a significant chunk of her day – but she was grateful to discover City of Hope is expanding into Orange County.

“There are other hospitals here, but they're not even a close second compared to City of Hope,” McMenomy said. “It’s unfortunate there are going to be people diagnosed with cancer in the future. But with City of Hope’s presence in Orange County, it gives them an opportunity to have the best care.”

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Lifelong fan for hope

Always an advocate for physical fitness, McMenomy now counts herself among City of Hope’s most ardent fans. In 2019, she participated in the “Paint It Pink” event in El Segundo with Dr. Waisman to paint a lifeguard tower pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, then served as an ambassador for the Walk for Hope, which raises awareness and funds for breast cancer research. McMenomy has grown to become a strong advocate for City of Hope; she presented her testimony to 19 industry groups and internal audiences in just one year.

“It meant the world to me to have such a strong presence in their campaign,” said McMenomy, who continues to see Dr. Waisman monthly. “I have the utmost respect for Dr. Waisman and the love he has for his patients. I’m so happy that I have him and his team – and I’m so thankful I have City of Hope.”

Discover world-class breast cancer care at City of Hope Newport Beach, home to renowned cancer specialists with unique expertise, backed by our pioneering research and delivered with uncompromising compassion. Call (949) 763-2204 or click here to make an appointment.