Donna McNutt

Grateful Laguna Beach Mom Counts Her Blessings, Gives Back To Others

Donna McNutt has lived with multiple myeloma since 2015, and she wouldn’t trade her experiences during that time for anything.
“I have such a full life with the people I have met, the lessons I have learned, and the opportunities to love my family,” the Laguna Beach resident said. “City of Hope gave me that time, six years so far. If you Googled my cancer when I was diagnosed, it did not look very good for me. It’s a miracle, and It inspires me to be grateful and find ways to give back.”
Here are some of the things McNutt is most grateful for as she reflects on “the best year of my cancer journey.”
Pioneering research and leading-edge therapies
McNutt’s physician, Amrita Krishnan, M.D., a renowned blood cancer clinician and researcher at City of Hope Newport Beach Fashion Island, works tirelessly to find advanced treatments for McNutt. Most recently, McNutt successfully received CAR-T cell therapy, an innovative form of immunotherapy in which a patient’s T cells are collected, taught to recognize and destroy cancer, and then reintroduced into the body, where they get to work attacking their target.
“I am so grateful for this groundbreaking treatment,” McNutt said. “Dr. Krishnan always seems to put the right plan together for me, and psychologically that gives me such confidence in my care.”
A close-knit community
McNutt shares a special bond with a group of other multiple myeloma patients at City of Hope Newport Beach Fashion Island. The self-named “MM Squad” turns visits to the clinic into opportunities to lift each other up. They gather in a circle of friendship while they wait for labs and infusions, listening, laughing, sharing stories from their daily lives, and simply being there for each other. “It’s been so important to me to be with my peers and sit down with someone and realize we have so many things in common.”
What fostered the group coming together, said McNutt, is having a location close to home that offers the personalized care they need and treats each patient as a whole person. City of Hope Orange County’s growing network of highly specialized cancer care now includes three additional locations in Huntington Beach, Irvine Sand Canyon and Newport Beach Lido. “I hope that every person facing cancer in Orange County has an opportunity to make that kind of connection,” she said.
Finding a purpose in giving back
McNutt is grateful for how her cancer journey has opened creative avenues for her to help others. She mentors and supports fellow cancer patients, and she inspires thousands of people with her Instagram account (@thecancerfashionista), where she posts striking images of her stylish outfits.
“It’s how I show other patients that I have found a way to not give up in the fight against cancer, and that is simply by getting dressed. Whatever the day has in store, whether it’s having lunch with girlfriends or going to get my lab tests done, I get dressed up. This helped me survive,” McNutt said with a smile. “The number of positive DMs I get from other people impacted by cancer is overwhelming, telling me they wore a red lipstick to chemo or played tennis for the first time.”
Giving back gives her purpose, McNutt said, and she looks forward to giving back financially to City of Hope Orange County as well. She appreciates all the donors, whether they have given now or have pledged a future commitment. No amount is insignificant, she says.
“City of Hope’s breakthroughs happen because of the generosity of others,” McNutt said, “so when people give, they aren’t just giving money, they are giving the power to heal people like me. Your name may or may not be on a wall at City of Hope, but your name is on the wall of my heart for what you did for me, and I'll never forget it.”
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