Tina Wang, R.N., finds something to love about her job every day. A skilled nurse who recently joined the infusion clinic team at City of Hope Orange County Lennar Foundation Cancer Center, Wang brings a dedication to patient care rooted in her personal experience with cancer.
The compassion Wang demonstrates is a vital element of nursing excellence at City of Hope, her colleagues say. Patients coming to the cancer center for treatment are often experiencing a range of emotions, and Wang understands when she sees fear or uncertainty in their eyes.
“Our patients rely on us for exceptional nursing care. It takes clinical expertise, and it also requires being empathetic and supportive. My journey with cancer helps me help my patients know they’re not alone, even though they usually never know I’ve had cancer myself,” Wang said.
Advanced treatments and compassionate care
A soft-spoken 32-year-old from Huntington Beach, Wang was in her fourth year at California State University Long Beach in 2013, studying to be a dietitian, when she began struggling with her breathing one day. Diagnostic tests revealed she had lymphoma. Six cycles of chemotherapy eradicated much of the cancer, but one persistent tumor refused to go away.
In 2014, Wang’s physician referred her to City of Hope. There, she met with Leslie Popplewell, M.D., a leader in lymphoma research and treatment. Dr. Popplewell recommended Wang receive bone marrow transplantation and CAR T cell therapy through a leading-edge clinical trial being conducted at City of Hope.
Renowned for its legacy of pioneering research and cancer breakthroughs, City of Hope performs more bone marrow transplants than anywhere else in the country and conducts more than 800 clinical trials each year enrolling more than 5,000 patients.
“Being at City of Hope gave me and my family every confidence,” Wang said. “Dr. Popplewell explained how CAR T cell therapy would train my immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells. The science behind CAR T is incredible and has helped many patients with cancers like mine. And City of Hope is a leader in the field. My diagnosis was Stage 4 lymphoma, and my parents and I agreed we wanted to move forward right away.”
Wang lived on-campus at City of Hope for a month during the bone marrow transplant process. She says the nurses made what was a trying experience much easier — taking great care of her while also motivating her to be active and not feel bound to being in her room. By year’s end, Wang had achieved remission.
“My experiences with those nurses were unforgettable,” Wang said. “They always encouraged me to think positively and spent time listening and talking to me. I believe they played a crucial part in my full recovery.”
Today, Wang gets regular follow-up tests. Each time, they’ve shown she remains in remission. She celebrates by taking hour-long walks in the park — happy and free of any issues.
Grateful to be giving back
Wang completed her nutrition degree in 2015, but cancer had changed her perspective. She felt called to nursing like her sister who had been practicing for years and the nurses who guided her through treatment. “I realized I wanted to dedicate my career to caring for patients and helping them heal just like my nurses helped me,” said Wang. She applied to California State University San Marcos and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2019.
Wang would think about City of Hope frequently while she was getting started in nursing, and when she learned City of Hope had opened an advanced comprehensive cancer center in Irvine, she immediately applied for an open role. She has found great rewards in her work at City of Hope, both professionally and personally.
“Patients who know my story are often surprised at first, because I'm considered young to be diagnosed with cancer,” Wang explained. “What’s important to me is that they feel comforted knowing I’m part of an entire team that is there to walk with them and bring them hope.”
To make an appointment at any of City of Hope’s Orange County locations, call 888-333-HOPE (4673).