December 5, 2013 | by City of Hope
For those who have battled cancer, each tomorrow is, in reality, a dream come true. On Jan. 1, former City of Hope patients will see another dream come true: They'll be riding atop City of Hope's float in the 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade.
The theme of this year's float is "Turning Hope and Dreams into Reality"; the theme of the parade is "Dreams Come True." Here is the story of one rider: John Cloer.
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My name is John Cloer and I'm a healthy 12-year-old, but a long time ago I had cancer. Just before my third birthday I didn't feel well. I was tired and pale and I kept telling my mom my stomach and my legs hurt. My mom thought I had the flu since it was winter, but when I wouldn't even eat a piece of candy, we went to the doctor. The doctor saw that I had a lot of bruising and she ordered lab work and sent us home. A few hours later the doctor called to tell my mom I had leukemia and needed to go to City of Hope that day.
When we got there the doctors talked to my parents and gave me some toy cars to play with. Soon after, they needed to set up an IV to give me medicine and I was really scared and upset about the needles. I didn't understand everything that was happening to me at the time, but I had to have blood transfusions and chemotherapy right away. They also had to do bone marrow aspirations so they took me to a place I called the "wiggly room" because I felt strange when I woke up after the procedures. I wasn't afraid of the wiggly room because everyone was really nice and there was a toy and a snack for me after. The nurses let my mom and my 3-month-old brother stay with me in the hospital. I didn't realize then we wouldn't go home for 10 days.
Three months after my first stay in the hospital I woke up one morning with my neck so swollen I couldn't move it. We rushed to City of Hope for another long stay while they helped my body fight off a serious infection. The nurses would let me use syringes for "water gun" fights and try to lift my spirits with visits to the play room. When my counts were good my doctor would even let me go to the playground at City of Hope and feed the fish in the Japanese garden. A week later, I was happy to go home to my brother and my sister, who was in high school at the time.
Several months into my treatment my hair started falling out. It came out in patches all over our house. Soon I was completely bald, but my baby brother was too so it seemed sort of normal.
Over the next few years I saw my doctors, took my daily chemo pills and got better. We attended many City of Hope events that celebrate holidays like the Christmas pajama party and the Halloween trick-or-treat on campus. I have grown up coming to City of Hope.
My sister, Heather, decided to become a nurse after watching me go through treatment. Now she is a City of Hope nurse who works on the bone marrow transplant floor taking care of patients the way my nurses took care of me. She's going to walk in the parade with the float.
Treatment for my cancer wasn't easy, but a lot of good has come from my years at City of Hope.
I'm really excited to represent City of Hope on their Rose Parade float. City of Hope has given me the opportunity to make all my dreams come true.