In Sickness and in Health

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In Sickness and in Health

Like daughter, like father: A grateful family’s journey

Lauren Baum Nollette expected she might face breast cancer some day; both her mother and grandmother battled the disease.

She just didn’t expect to receive a diagnosis at 28 years old.

And when her father, Jim Baum, brought her to City of Hope for treatment, he never thought he would return as a patient only a few years later. Contending with cancer drew the Baums closer together as they cared for each other. With help from City of Hope’s medical team, Lauren and Jim beat cancer. In gratitude, Jim made a significant gift to support City of Hope’s quest to end cancer and other serious diseases.

How It Began
Lauren’s cancer journey started in 2008 after she found a lump in her breast. Tests revealed a small tumor, so her mother, Judy Baum, called a surgeon and family friend for advice. His suggestion: “I highly recommend City of Hope.”

Under the care of surgeon I. Benjamin Paz, M.D., and oncologist Joanne Mortimer, M.D., Lauren had a lumpectomy and five months of chemotherapy before she ultimately opted for a double mastectomy to give her the best chance of warding off future tumors. Her reconstructive surgery was performed by plastic surgeon James Andersen, M.D.

Experiencing cancer as a 20-something was particularly difficult for Lauren. “You no longer care about anything except making it through,” Lauren says. “It’s like walking a tightrope. You don’t look down. You don’t look back. You just keep one foot in front of the other and keep going until you reach the other side.”

She found comfort by leaning on her family. “My father and my older brother were great and supportive,” Lauren says. “My mother knew exactly what I was going through. I had my support group right at home.”

She also was buoyed by the personal care of her physicians, whom she called “absolutely wonderful.” They were there for Lauren, from checking on her late at night after surgery to taking her phone calls at home after hours.

Two Strikes in One Family
Three years after her diagnosis, with a clean bill of health and a wedding to plan, everything seemed to be great. But Lauren and her family experienced another setback. Her father noticed a marble-sized bump in his chest. It was an extremely rare sarcoma in his pectoral muscle. Thankfully, he knew where to go.

“Seeing Lauren’s treatment, I was impressed. I knew I was in good hands at City of Hope,” says Jim, an engineer and entrepreneur residing in Crystal Bay, Nev.

He went through surgery with J. Dominic Femino, M.D., followed by radiotherapy. Just as Jim looked after Lauren during her battle with cancer, she teamed with her mom to care for him while he recovered.

After completing his treatment, Jim made a substantial donation to City of Hope in recognition of the doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals who contributed to his and Lauren’s recovery. “I enjoyed such great care because somebody else helped. Now it’s my turn,” says Jim.
He still comes to City of Hope every three months for imaging, and the results so far have been clear of cancer. Lauren is now married and lives with her husband in Alexandria, Va., where she works in marketing at a medical device company. She remains cancer-free and is deeply thankful to the team of caregivers at City of Hope.

“The amount of gratitude we have for City of Hope and our doctors is immense,” she says.“ We feel that we owe City of Hope our lives.”

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