In preparation for a Jan. 1 ride on the Rose Parade float, “Garden of Hopes and Dreams,” nine cancer survivors will share stories of unwavering belief, perseverance and how City of Hope, a world-renowned cancer research and treatment organization, provided compassionate, lifesaving therapies.
City of Hope’s float encapsulates this year’s Rose Parade theme, “Dream. Believe. Achieve.” Leading health care professionals will ride or walk alongside their cancer patients, whose strength, determination and positive outlook served them well during their journey to beat cancer.
The 50-foot long and nearly 17-foot-tall float built by Phoenix Decorating Company will feature animated butterflies, symbols of hope and transformation. Whimsical mushrooms will punctuate rebirth after a chaotic time, a metaphor for the sustained battle patients and their health care teams have against cancer, as well as a respectful nod to the dreamed-about eventual end of the pandemic.
COVID-19 created an additional obstacle, but these patients and health care professionals continued an uninterrupted fight against cancer. Many of the patients chose to share their cancer journey so that others diagnosed with a similar disease do not feel alone. Their commitment to their community is unequaled.
Simon Bray, 52, Rossmoor: Simon Bray, analyst for horse racing TV network TVG, found out he had a blood cancer called multiple myeloma when his vertebrae collapsed in the middle of the night. “Those were probably some of the darkest times for me because I’d been told I had cancer, but I wasn’t treating it. I had to go through the [back] surgery first,” Bray said. About three months later, he started his cancer treatment at City of Hope with Amrita Krishnan, M.D., an internationally recognized multiple myeloma expert. He received radiation, chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant.
“It used to be that work was No. 1, work was No. 2, and maybe family life and vacations were No. 3,” Bray said. “Now, it’s family first. Being home during the pandemic has only helped reinforce this for me.” Bray records live TVG segments from his home and is very careful because his lifesaving treatments have left him immunocompromised and more at-risk of serious symptoms if he contracts COVID-19.