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St. Bruno Parishioner, Hodgkin Lymphoma Survivor, and LAPD Commander Rides 2017 City of Hope Rose Parade Float

“Is my mom going to die?”

That was the question Anne Clark’s 10-year-old son asked Stephen J. Forman, M.D., a City of Hope hematologist, as his mother started treatment for Stage 1 Hodgkin lymphoma at City of Hope in the summer of 2014.

“No, she’s going to be OK,” Forman, the Francis & Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation, told her son.

“One of his good friends had lost a parent to cancer several years earlier,” said Clark, 52, reflecting on that moment, her voice quavering. “So he very much knew that was a possible outcome.”

Clark also grappled with feelings of uncertainty and shock that come with a cancer diagnosis.

“The week I was diagnosed, I had done Crossfit and Bikram yoga,” Clark said. “Hodgkin lymphoma is an equal opportunity cancer. It can hit you as a 16-year-old or a 70-year-old. There’s nothing you can do to prevent it in terms of lifestyle or screening.”

As the Los Angeles Police Department’s first female Hispanic commander, Clark takes nothing for granted. She has spent the past 30 years with the law enforcement agency – where she’s worked on a range of assignments, from patrol to vice to internal affairs, and has experienced her share of life-threatening moments over the years.

At the time she was diagnosed with cancer, Clark was captain of LAPD’s gangs and narcotics division. She oversaw 275 employees that worked within the city limits, stretching from San Pedro to the San Fernando Valley.

Since then, she has been promoted to a commander position at LAPD headquarters downtown and works closely with Assistant Police Chief Jorge Villegas on special projects and assignments.

Clark approached her cancer diagnosis with the same sensible and straightforward mentality with which she’s achieved a successful law enforcement career. She shaved her head before she started treatment. Clark often felt fatigued, battled severe headaches and could barely eat during the four months she received chemotherapy. But she never lost sight of what was most important to her.

What also helped her was the support of hundreds of police officers and other LAPD employees who signed up to do whatever they could to help her get through her treatment, which included two weeks of radiation.

Every two weeks, her co-workers volunteered to take her to chemotherapy appointments at City of Hope. Clark fondly recalled the time she told some of her co-workers she was feeling better and would like to have lunch with them. Word spread and when Clark showed up for lunch, 150 of her employees were waiting to dine with her.

“It was a pretty remarkable show of solidarity,” she added.

Those experiences left her appreciating what matters most in life.

“It made me realize that material things are just that  materials things,” she added. “What matters are your family and the people that you have relationships with.”

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The Feast of the Epiphany - January 8th

Reflections on the Epiphany from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

The Magi’s visit to the Christ Child commemorated at the Feast of the Epiphany shows that Jesus Christ is “the light of the world that guides the path of all peoples.”

“The faith of Mary becomes the first fruits and the model of the faith of the Church, the People of the New Covenant. But this people, from the beginning, is universal; and we see this today in the figure of the Magi, who come to Bethlehem following the light of a star and the indications of the Sacred Scriptures.”

Christmas shows the faith of the Virgin Mary, of Joseph and of the shepherds, while Epiphany shows “the faith of the Magi” who came from the East to adore the King of the Jews. The Virgin Mary represents the “branch” of Israel and the remnant “foretold by the prophets, from which the Messiah will spring forth.”

In contrast, the Magi represent the people, “the civilizations, the cultures, the religions” that are “on the path to God, in search of his reign of peace, of justice, of truth, and of liberty.” Mary embodies the “nucleus of Israel,” the people who “know and have faith in the God that was revealed to the Patriarchs.” Her faith is like that of Abraham, because it is “the new beginning of the same promise” that is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

"The light of Christ is so clear and strong that it makes the language of the cosmos and of the Scriptures intelligible, so that all those who, like the Magi, are open to the truth can recognize it and join in contemplating the Savior of the world.”

Catholic News Agency; 2013

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