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City of Hope’s new Irvine center will bring cancer care closer to Orange County residents

A rendering of City of Hope's new cancer center.
(Courtesy of City of Hope)

City of Hope has a tradition of christening the walls of new buildings with messages of hope and well wishes.

During a tour this week of the building that will become the Lennar Foundation Cancer Center in Irvine, several of these messages were written in permanent marker on the bare walls of the center, which will be the only standalone cancer center in Orange County when it opens next year, according to Lisa O’Neill Hill, a spokeswoman for City of Hope Orange County.

“Here’s to all the patients who will heal their bodies and souls at City of Hope,” one message read.

Some had written messages in support of loved ones who have struggled with cancer.

People have written messages on the walls of City of Hope's new cancer center.
People have written messages on the walls of City of Hope’s new cancer center, which is slated to open some time next year.
(Ben Brazil)

During the tour, Dr. Amrita Krishnan wrote “the road to cure myeloma starts here.” Krishnan currently works at City of Hope’s Fashion Island location and is an expert on myeloma, a rare cancer that attacks white blood cells in bone marrow. Myeloma will be studied at the new center along with many other forms of cancer.

Annette Walker, president of City of Hope Orange County, said the messages will always be a part of the building.

“It might have paint over it, it might have carpet over it, but it’s here,” she said. “It’s in the bones of this building.”

With more than 1,000 doctors and researchers, the 190,000-square-foot cancer center will provide medical care and groundbreaking research when it opens off of Alton and Barranca parkways near the Great Park. Because of the center’s focus on research, patients will be able to take part in clinical trials of newer medications.

The center will also have a substantial supportive care program to help patients with the psychological effects of cancer and an outpatient program, which includes diagnostic imaging and screening and medical, radiation and surgical oncology, among other treatments.

City of Hope Orange County president Annette Walker speaks during a tour of the Lennar Foundation Cancer Center.
City of Hope Orange County president Annette Walker speaks during a tour of the Lennar Foundation Cancer Center.
(Ben Brazil)

The cancer center is part of City of Hope’s $1-billion campus, which also includes a hospital that is slated to open next to the cancer center in 2025. Once it opens, it will be the county’s only specialty hospital dedicated to only treating and curing cancer.

City of Hope currently has four locations in Newport Beach, Irvine and Huntington Beach. The new location will be City of Hope’s Orange County centerpiece once it is completed. City of Hope’s main campus is in Duarte.

During a phone interview following the tour, Krishnan said the cancer center is a huge step forward for cancer care in Orange County because 20% of patients have had to leave the county to receive care. Many of City of Hope’s patients are forced to make the trek to the health provider’s Duarte location, which is close to an hour away for many residents in Orange County. The cancer center will also be important to Orange County’s expanding senior population because cancer tends to impact older adults.

Krishnan is particularly excited about the facility’s clinical research unit, where she and others will be able to research various cancers and potential treatments.

“So there’s a tremendous need,” Krishnan said. “I have so many patients who drive 50 miles to come and see me.”

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