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Patient, Caregiver and Staff Stories

Cynthia Zamora

For three months Cynthia Zamora was left speechless after a team of surgeons removed a tumor that took up more than half of her tongue. To save her life, a  team led by Dr. Joseph Califano designed a comprehensive plan to eradicate the aggressive squamous cell carcinoma, create a new tongue using tissue from her thigh, and teach her how to speak, eat and walk again.

Mike Levine

Even with a diagnosis of stage IV pancreatic cancer and ongoing chemotherapy, Mike Levine trained for the grueling Ironman World Championship. He had begun end-of-life planning before a second opinion at Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health gave him one more chance to compete in the sport he loves.

Leigh Ingram

After several years of waiting, Leigh Ingram was pregnant. But just as she started her second trimester, she got more life-changing news: a diagnosis of stage IV tonsil cancer. To save her life, Leigh was advised to terminate the pregnancy. A second opinion at UC San Diego Health provided hope.

Susan Rooney

After surgery and chemotherapy proved ineffective for her brain tumor, Susan Rooney joined a clinical trial testing a new drug – one of several leading edge therapies offered at Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health. Read her story.

Michelle Brubaker

Michelle Brubaker, a senior communications and media relations manager at UC San Diego Health, documented every stage of her breast cancer treatment, complete with raw emotions and the trials that come with it. Her doctors, Anne Wallace, Richard Schwab and James Urbanic, help explain the process along the way in this 17-minute documentary. 

Joe Padilla

A swollen cheek led Joe Padilla to UC San Diego Health, where a team of specialists including Dr. Ezra Cohen, Dr. Joseph Califano and Dr. Charles Coffey found and removed a cancerous lump under his tongue. Find out why going to your dentist every six months is considered the best detection tool for this type of cancer, which is rising in frequency among nonsmokers.

Kay Mueller

Kay Mueller had a routine breast exam, Pap smear, and colonoscopy when she turned 50, never expecting that anything could be wrong—let alone a diagnosis of Stage 3 rectal cancer. Follow Kay through her treatment and surgery with Dr. Sonia Ramamoorthy.

Armondo Lopez

Despite several negative biopsies for prostate cancer, Armondo Lopez’s PSA blood levels kept rising. His doctor, J. Kellogg Parsons, suggested an MRI-guided biopsy. The new technology helped locate an aggressive prostate cancer while it was still completely curable.