elen

Elen Tahmasian’s family support team: husband Masis, daughter Linda and son Arthur.

Elen’s Story

“I received life-saving care.”

“Your CT scan was positive. The tumor is malignant.”

Elen Tahmasian, 43, a wife and a mother to two growing children, never dreamed she’d be hearing these words from her doctor. The diagnosis was breast cancer; the tumor was aggressive.

Elen was exercising in a Zumba class when she first felt a heaviness and pain in her left breast. Later at home, she did a self-examination and felt a lump.

I was so scared…somehow I knew in my heart that it was cancer,” Elen said. “I was too afraid — afraid for my children.”

At first she told no one. However, when a month passed and the lump felt larger, she confided in her husband. “I was shocked,” said Masis, who urged Elen immediately to see their primary care physician, Dr. Narine Arutyunyan.

Elen’s visit with Dr. Arutyunyan began a year-long journey that included six weeks of radiation therapy at AHGL’s Cancer Services Center.

“The staff at the Cancer Center was like family,” Elen said. “They were so positive and kind. I am especially thankful for their friendship. Dr. (Sara) Kim was wonderful. Whenever I needed to talk with her, she listened. I received life-saving care.”

Today, Elen Tahmasian is cancer-free and appreciates each and every day with her family. On occasion, she even stops by the Cancer Center just to say “hi” to the staff. “That’s pretty unusual, isn’t it?” she jokes.

Fred and Louisa have been married 54 years. Among their European art collection is this pewter warrior.

Fred’s Story

“I feel like I’m among relatives.”

In 2000, after retiring from a cargo transportation job with a European-based airline, Fred Koch and his wife Louisa moved from their home in Germany and settled in Glendale.

A strong, youthful-looking, ex-professional wrestler with a vocabulary encompassing four languages, Fred was a picture of good health — and he remained that way for the next several years. However, in the fall of 2016, his good health suffered an unexpected blow. Fred was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and he soon began treatment under the care of Glendale Adventist Medical Center Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Sara Kim, and her team at AHGL’s Cancer Services Center.

Fred was apprehensive at first, but his anxiety melted away as he became acquainted with Dr. Kim, the skilled and caring radiation therapists and support staff. On December 25, 2016, only two weeks into his treatment, he wrote a note to the staff, which read in part:

“Dr. Sara Kim is an amazing doctor. The first time I saw her, I said to myself, ‘Fred, you are in good hands.’ The staff and radiation therapists are very friendly. I feel like I’m with my own family. I’ve never had such emotions before.”

As his visits continued, Fred also commented later, “I feel like I’m among relatives here.” With the completion of his treatment and the caring support of his new “relatives” at the Cancer Center, Fred Koch is looking forward to returning to good health and being cancer-free.

Cancer free and thankful for her experience at AHGL, Cathy Yanez takes a relaxing walk in Descanso Gardens.

Cathy’s Story

“I believe God led me here.”

Cathy Yanez held herself together long enough to get the information she needed from the doctor. Then she hung up the phone and cried.

The pathology report was not good news. At age 51 and otherwise in good health, Cathy had developed a form of lymphatic cancer, identified as B-type, Marginal Zone, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, stage 2A.

“I had a pit in my stomach,” Cathy felt after learning she had cancer. “Nothing but fear, because this journey didn’t come with a manual.” She was referred to AHGL oncologist Boris Bagdasarian, DO, and within two days she had an appointment in his office.

“Dr. Bagdasarian looked at me and said, ‘don’t worry, we’re going to get through this,’” Cathy recalls. “He told me that I’d have a fighting chance…the chances of remission are high. And he gave me a hug. I needed hugs.”

In addition to chemotherapy, Cathy underwent radiation therapy at AHGL’s Cancer Services Center, under the direction of Sara Kim, MD. During the radiation phase, she was strong enough for the five-day-a-week treatments in the morning and still go to her workplace.

Ten months following her initial diagnosis, she was cancer-free! “One of the best days of my life,” she gleamed.

Cathy reflects on being a cancer patient at AHGL. “I had nothing but positive, positive, positive experiences here,” she says. At the Cancer Services Center, she has the highest praises for Dr. Kim, radiation therapists, and everyone as being “so welcoming, so patient and kind.”

Pausing for a moment, Cathy added, “I believe God led me here.”