Rose Parade float: Kommah McDowell celebrates her family with faith and strength

December 6, 2013 | by City of Hope

Kommah McDowell will celebrate with her family on New Year's Day. Photo credit: Kommah McDowell Kommah McDowell will celebrate with her family on New Year's Day. Photo credit: Kommah McDowell

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: Kommah McDowell.


In March of 2005, one month after my 29th birthday, my best friend proposed to me and we were set to be married on Oct. 29, 2005. Three months later, I was diagnosed with triple negative inflammatory breast cancer and was given a 5 percent chance to live beyond two years. Not to mention if I did survive, I would not be able to have children.

Prior to this unbelievable diagnosis, I was going to my primary care physician every other week for seven months complaining of various pains, tenderness, swelling and growth in my right breast. For seven months, I was told it was a cyst and it would go away in time because I was too young to have breast cancer. Then, after months of going back and forth to my doctor, I requested the “cyst” be removed. It was then that the surgeon stumbled upon cancer, when they were supposed to be removing a cyst. Unbelievably, the medical staff was not familiar with the type of cancer they found. They just knew it was cancer and felt the best course of action was to remove it immediately. Fortunately, I was able to go to City of Hope for a second opinion and treatment.

Within days of my diagnosis, I had my first appointment at City of Hope. It was during this appointment that I was advised that I not only had breast cancer, but it was late stage and it was one of the rarest and deadliest forms: inflammatory breast cancer.

For four months, I underwent chemotherapy, which left me bedridden. I had several surgeries and weeks of radiation therapy. Fortunately, I had wonderful doctors orchestrating my treatment process. With God’s guidance, my medical team was awesome and words cannot express how grateful my family and I are for my second chance at life.

After my diagnosis, I told my fiancé, Charles McDowell Jr., I would understand if he decided not to marry me and I gave him permission to leave. With his support, I survived treatment, surgeries, mastectomies and reconstruction. I am humbled to say, we celebrated eight years of survival in July, eight years of marriage in October and we are proud parents of a wonderful 4-year-old little boy, Christian McDowell.

My life is a "Dream Come True." Eight years ago, I did not know if I would see 30 years old.

Look at me now: a wife and a mother riding on a Rose Parade float, imagine that. God knew what He was doing when He sent me to City of Hope. My life has never been the same!

This wonderful opportunity is just an example of how far my family and I have come since July 2005.

Learn more about City of Hope's Rose Parade float »



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