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City of Hope expands with Seacliff facility in Huntington Beach

Patients, staff, public officials, physicians and administrators gathered in front of the new City of Hope Seacliff location.
Patients, staff, public officials, physicians and administrators gathered in front of the new City of Hope Seacliff location in Huntington Beach on Tuesday morning for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)
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Kathy Miller Willahan may be 74 years old, but that doesn’t stop the Huntington Beach resident from getting on the pickleball court five days a week.

Surviving breast cancer in her 50s also didn’t permanently deter her, nor did a 2017 diagnosis of Stage 4 mantle cell lymphoma, a rare form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

“There was no cure at that time for my type of blood cancer, and few people survived past five years,” she said.

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Willahan said that her husband drove more than 6,000 miles between 2021 and 2022 to take her back and forth to City of Hope in Duarte.

Now there is a closer solution right in her own backyard.

City of Hope Orange County held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new Seacliff location on Tuesday morning.

Cancer survivor Kathy Miller Willahan speaks during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for City of Hope Seacliff.
Cancer survivor Kathy Miller Willahan speaks during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for City of Hope Seacliff in Huntington Beach on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The 17,000-square-foot comprehensive outpatient center is located at the corner of Main Street and Yorktown Avenue, across from City Hall on one side and the Seacliff Village Shopping Center on the other side. It becomes City of Hope’s second-largest facility in Orange County.

City of Hope Seacliff will start seeing patients on Monday, City of Hope Orange County President Annette Walker said, adding that it was about two years in the making. The previous, smaller location in Huntington Beach, on Beach Boulevard, will close, its services transferred to Seacliff.

“It’s just another continuation of our promise to be part of the Orange County community and be as close to the people as we can,” Walker said.

City of Hope Seacliff features 20 infusion bays with varied coastal views from the third floor, as well as 15 light and bright exam rooms with large monitors for patients to review tests with their specialists.

Artwork by a local artist is featured at the new City of Hope Seacliff location in Huntington Beach on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Doctors there will offer expertise in gynecologic oncology, urology, Mohs surgery for skin cancer, blood cancers and more. Walker said the unique artwork on the wall originally came from the Lennar Foundation Cancer Center in Irvine, but it was selected for the new center to fit the Huntington Beach vibe.

Speakers at Tuesday’s ceremony included oncologist Dr. Nishan Tchekmedyian, himself a Huntington Beach native and Edison High graduate, as well as Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Pat Burns.

Burns shared that he was diagnosed with cancer three years ago, was treated at City of Hope by Dr. Jeffrey Yoshida and had his prostate removed.

“I’m grateful for the care, and I’m really grateful now he’s going to be in my backyard for a follow-up,” Burns said. “This is not just a medical facility, it’s a lifeline for our community, offering healing and support to those who need it most.”

Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Pat Burns, right, shakes hands with oncologist Nishan Tchekmedyian.
Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Pat Burns, right, shakes hands with oncologist Nishan Tchekmedyian after making remarks during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new City of Hope Seacliff in Huntington Beach on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Guests heard music from the swing band of Johnny Kleker, 86, a longtime Huntington Beach resident and patient of Tchekmedyian. Additionally, local artist Melissa Murphy, better known as Melissa Murals, was on site painting surfboards.

One of Murphy’s surfboard paintings will be hung in the facility in honor of former City of Hope employee Todd Lindquist, who worked closely with the nonprofit’s facilities, design and construction teams at many City of Hope locations throughout Southern California.

Lindquist was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in November 2022 and died this past January, Walker said.

Melissa Murphy paints on surfboards during the City of Hope Seacliff ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Muralist Melissa Murphy paints on surfboards during the City of Hope Seacliff ribbon-cutting ceremony in Huntington Beach on Tuesday morning.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“He was an inspiration to everybody who worked on this project,” Walker said. “While he did lose his battle, we know that Todd’s contributions will continue to mean something for countless patients and their families who come through these doors.”

Before she was done talking, Willahan told the ceremony attendees that her cancer “did not define” her. After years of fighting, she was told at City of Hope that she was a candidate for CAR T-cell therapy, which proved successful on the second attempt.

“My body had cancer. My brain, my heart and my soul didn’t have cancer,” Willahan said. “I did my best to live every day as well as I could, and that’s exactly what I’m doing today, because of City of Hope.”

The latest technology in an infusion room of the new City of Hope Seacliff location in Huntington Beach on Tuesday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)
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