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Inspiring Survival Stories

Medical School

Kiah Bertoglio, 27, of Orange, a fourth-year medical student at UC Irvine, discusses the pressure she puts on herself to succeed.

How I Survived … My Son’s Rare Blood Disease

My son Kai has aplastic anemia. It’s bone-marrow failure—white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets, all of it just stops—and one cure is a transplant. But that’s risky: The survival rate is only about 70 percent, and if it doesn’t take, you lose your child. So you do everything you can before you go to transplant.

How I Survived … My Baby’s Heart Defect

The oldest of my five children is 13, and Carlee, my youngest, was born last July. The pregnancy was normal, and there was nothing unusual about the delivery. Her evaluation was good; she seemed fine. Then they ran a pulse oximetry heart-defect screening test, something they’d just started doing nine days earlier because of a new state law.

How I Survived … Cancer’s Relentless Grind

I’ve been diagnosed three times—when I was 18, 20, and 22. Hodgkin’s lymphoma, every time.The first time was just before I started college. I had a recurring fever and the antibiotics weren’t working. So I went to the doctor just to make sure I didn’t have pneumonia. I got a chest X-ray and they found an 8-centimeter mass sitting on the left side of my heart.

How I Survived … The Disease I’m Trained to Treat

At George Washington University, I trained in general surgery, and I did additional training in cancer surgery at City of Hope. Then about eight years ago, after my own cancer treatment, I dedicated my practice to breast cancer.

Hitting the Wall

Suzanne Maldonado-Rael, 34, of La Mirada, on how her heart stopped after the Surf City USA Marathon, and the fellow runner who saved her life.

Bipolar Disorder

Lisa Becker, 42, of Costa Mesa, tells writer Michael Goldstein about regaining control of her life and how she’s helping others do the same.