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Patients Celebrate ‘Olympic’ Victory

One of the torches that relayed the Olympic flame on its way to Atlanta this spring was in another run Thursday.

With former Olympic athletes on hand to congratulate them, 30 children and adults who have had bone marrow transplants to treat cancer carried the torch through the halls of St. Joseph Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Orange County.

The festivities had special meaning for the staffs of the hospitals because they also marked the 10th anniversary of the first bone marrow transplant done in Orange County--in Room 305 of CHOC, said Mitchell S. Cairo, the hospital’s director of bone marrow transplants.

“It’s a very difficult process for patients and family and staff,” Cairo said. “We often forget the victories we have because we are faced with those who have complications and don’t survive.”

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The runners and walkers who carried the torch--"lit” with gold reflective paper instead of a real flame--were joined by 300 others for the annual reunion of bone marrow donors and transplant patients.

Corrine Knight, a 12-year-old leukemia survivor from Anaheim, said she has attended other bone marrow transplant reunions since completing her therapy four years ago, but that Thursday’s celebration was a standout.

Phyllis Regener, a 48-year-old Anaheim Hills resident in her first year of recovery from breast cancer, said the reunions have great significance for the patients, many of whom will not know for years yet if they have really beaten the disease.

“I’m leaving straight from here to the hospital to help another girl get through it,” she said. “You need all the support you can get.”


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