Cancer Patient Stories
Stories of hope and healing from the Knight Cancer Institute
Cancer is a life-altering diagnosis. But it’s usually written about in a cold, impersonal way. To restore the balance, we've collected some stories about our patients. From the first diagnosis to the last round of treatment, they show us what cancer feels like from the inside. They told their stories in the hope of helping other patients and families at any stage of illness. We are honored to share these snapshots of real people contending with the real challenges of cancer. If you have a story to share, please get in touch with us at KnightCancerCom@ohsu.edu .
Pay it forward
Elissa Baldwin was on a dream trip to Portugal when she got the news. Her doctors told her she had acute myeloid leukemia. She needed to come back at once. The next six months were a blur. After five rounds of intensive treatment, she staged a remarkable recovery. But that’s not the end of the story — it’s the beginning.
‘I can walk again’
A tumor the size of a cabbage was destroying his knee. Then Brian Matekovich heard about a new type of therapy.
A van and a mammogram
The exam took Leola Kalamau 15 minutes. It may have saved her life.
‘I wanted to give back’
Hai Pham thought his weight loss was due to stress. Until he got a bruise that wouldn’t heal.
Out of options — until she tried Gleevec
Judy Orem was desperate. Chemo wasn’t working any more. Then she found a ray of hope.
‘But I eat blueberries… I can’t have cancer’
Strong. Independent. Could Brenna Lindsley stay that way despite a terrifying diagnosis?
Bone marrow transplant
‘I would understand if you walked away’
Distance runner Matt McCallum and his wife Gabi Duarte had just gotten engaged. Were they ready to face this together?
Stage IV cancer, and about to become a dad
Matt Moore was inspired by the kindness people showed when he was diagnosed with cancer. He was determined to pass it on.
Bile duct cancer
Rare tumor, remarkable person
The surgeons could take out her cancer. But how would they stitch her back together?
An all-woman breast cancer team? Yes!
Celeste Saenz drove 2,000 miles to get treatment at the Knight Cancer Institute. It was worth it.
Bone marrow transplant
A perfect match
Cancer pushed Lila Newman to the edge of survival. Then a police officer from New York City threw out a lifeline.
Surgery was out of the question. Or was it?
The cancer was destroying his liver. Jerry Widawski had a decision to make.
Three dots mark the spot
When Liberty Barnes told her kids she had cancer, her son cried out, “But you’re my mom!”
In it for the long haul
Diana Dowd joined a clinical trial to test a new therapy for a rare cancer. She helped change the way the condition is treated.
Welcome to the whirlwind
As a single mom, facing the most aggressive type of breast cancer, Jennifer Severance needed a plan. And she needed a team.
Hug the ones you love
Shanie Mason had stage IV cancer. Would a clinical trial help her?
Make the most of your time
It was an experimental treatment. David Seidl didn’t hesitate.
Bravery and a backpack
Lisa Wooden got a new type of therapy for her stage IV cancer. Yes, she carries it in a backpack.
She crossed her arms and felt a lump
Catching cancer early made all the difference for Tami Beaty.
Weathering the storm
How do you survive cancer in the face of a pandemic? Susan Brock focused on getting three things done every day.
New hope for pancreatic cancer
Whipple surgery gives pancreatic cancer survivor Anne Matsen precious time to spend with her grandchildren.
Surviving cancer — twice
Emily Hauser’s journey began when her daughter bumped against her chest. She felt a strange pain.