Three women stand smiling in front of purple flower backdrop with gold butterflies4. Sign reads "Celebration of Life"

Loma Linda University Cancer Center hosted its 33rd annual Celebration of Life event on June 2 to celebrate cancer survivors and highlight the latest advancements in cancer therapy. This year's theme was "Blossoming Beyond Cancer," emphasizing the strength of survivors and the comprehensive survivorship care and support provided by the cancer team.

As attendees enjoyed their lunch, the program commenced with a moving story about Ruben Andrade, a 21-year-old patient from San Bernardino who was diagnosed with leukemia last fall. Andrade became the first patient to receive CAR-T cell therapy at the Loma Linda University Cancer Center. Ruben's family and friends continued to provide unwavering support throughout his treatment by attending the celebration event.

Mark Reeves, MD, PhD, director of the Cancer Center, took the stage to outline three targeted cancer programs that "fundamentally change the face of cancer" and are the future of cancer care at Loma Linda University Health.

"Our dedication to pioneering innovative therapies and providing comprehensive care ensures that every patient not only has a chance to fight but also to thrive beyond cancer," Reeves said. "Together, we are forging a future where survival is just the beginning of a journey towards a healthier, brighter tomorrow."

The program continued with announcing this year's Courage to Care Honorees. The Don Kroetz "Courage to Care" award honors exceptional inpatient and outpatient nurses who demonstrate extraordinary dedication to patient care as voted on by their peers.

The Inpatient Courage to Care honoree, Gibson Prihandayadi, RN, began his journey as a Capstone student and has evolved into a role as a respected oncology nurse, preceptor, and team leader. His unwavering commitment and compassion have earned him the admiration of patients and peers.

The Outpatient Courage to Care honoree, Catherine Rivera, RN, was recognized for her exceptional contributions. Despite initial reservations due to her father's battle with cancer, Rivera's journey led her to oncology, where she found her true calling. Known for her tireless dedication and compassionate care, Rivera has profoundly impacted her patients and colleagues.

Judy Chatigny, RN, MSN, assistant vice president of the Cancer Center, said this was a powerful reminder of the resilience of cancer survivors, who embody the strength and perseverance needed to overcome one of life's most significant challenges. Their stories of triumph continue to inspire and provide hope for all those affected by cancer.

As the only academic cancer center in the region, Loma Linda University Cancer Center provides complex, multidisciplinary cancer care through programs that combine state-of-the-art diagnostic tools, cutting-edge cancer treatments, a team of physicians, and support services in one location. Learn more about supporting Cancer Center programs and patients online.