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Mission Hope patient shares cancer survival story ahead of ‘Day of Hope’

Posted at 11:29 AM, Apr 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-10 14:29:05-04

Wednesday, April 11 marks the fifth annual Day of Hope for the Mission Hope Cancer Center in Santa Maria. 

The event is one of the largest cancer fundraisers of the year in Santa Barbara County. 

Hundreds of volunteers will line the streets of Santa Maria, Orcutt, Lompoc, Santa Ynez and Nipomo Wednesday morning selling special-edition $1 newspapers. 

All of the money raised stays in our community and benefits patients and families of Mission Hope Cancer Center. The proceeds help fund patient support services, new technology and clinical trials, all at no cost to the patients. 

The extra pro-bono services are part of Mission Hope’s commitment to helping people get through such a difficult time in their lives. 

Cambria resident Charmaine Coimbra is cancer-free thanks to the medical staff at Mission Hope who offered her specialized care. 

"The short story begins on my birthday last December," Coimbra said. "My OBGYN called and said, ‘Happy birthday. You have cancer.’"

A breast cancer survivor, Coimbra quickly formulated her plan of attack. This time, against uterine sarcoma. 

"The second sentence from my OBGYN was, ‘Do you want to go north or south?’ And I had absolutely no idea what she meant by that," she said. 

Coimbra’s options were to go north to the Bay Area — "Or, I could go to Santa Maria where there is a gynecological oncologist on staff which is one who has uterine cancer should really go see," Coimbra said. "Obviously, I chose Santa Maria."

That gynecologic oncologist is Dr. Christopher Lutman. 

"Charmaine had a difficult cancer problem given her sarcoma diagnosis," Dr. Lutman said. "She handled everything with a tremendous amount of grace and courage."

"The Mission Hope Center had a real sense of peace that was really comforting because I have to tell you, I was scared out of my mind," said Coimbra. 

 Shortly after she was diagnosed, Dr. Lutman had Coimbra undergo a full hysterectomy. Just recently, she finished radiation. 

Now as she heals, Coimbra says she immensely grateful to have had Mission Hope Cancer Center in her backyard. 

"We are really blessed as women to have this sort of facility right here on the Central Coast," she said. 

Dr. Lutman says fundraising efforts like Day of Hope help the team at Mission Hope Cancer Center save lives like Coimbra’s. 

"The community support for Mission Hope and the resources that are raised through the Day of Hope effort has a direct clinical and non-clinical impact on the lives and quality of life for our patients," he said. 

You can support Day of Hope by purchasing a newspaper or donating online