Anti-Cancer Challenge


Everyone knew how independent (ridiculous stubborn) "Nash" Garcia was. So sometimes family had to intervene to get him the care he needed. During his final months in and out of ERs across multiple counties, no one could diagnose his frightening symptoms since he tested negative for blood cancer based on traditional bone marrow tests. Despite his weakening condition, that ornery man insisted he could leave my mom's to live by himself on fish oil and homeopathics. It was time for a last ditch intervention to get a firm medical diagnosis. He needed to visit one of the state’s seven NCI-designated Cancer Centers where specialists had access to in-house laboratory, clinical, and population-wide research. These Centers have multi-month wait lists. Fortunately, UCI Cancer Center Director, Dr. Richard Van Etten, made an exception and saw him within a week.

It was at that first appt. we learned he didn't have common blood cancers like leukemia or lymphoma. In fact, he had an extremely rare blood disorder affecting about 4 in every 100,000 people... figuring out exactly which required an expensive test against a subset of rare blood cancers worldwide.

I was stunned so many other physicians weren't able to reach this conclusion sooner which could have extended his life, or at least, prevented him suffering without proper treatment. I was also relieved to know he was finally getting quality care. After that visit, we drove to a healthy hippie joint nearby. In perfect patio weather, we watched him devour smoothies and greens galore. I knew I was enjoying one of my last meals with him.

It was. He died not long after on June 8, 2016.

A year after his passing, I hope the inaugural UCI Anti-Cancer "Walk/Run for Research 5k" on June 11, 2017 is a chance to celebrate the fact he gave us each other.


To register, click "Join My Team." Anti-Cancer Challenge proceeds go directly to lifesaving cancer research at the UCI Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. As one of only 47 National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated comprehensive cancer centers, the innovative research done at UCI is developing new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.


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