LOS ANGELES — As part of the International Home Furnishings Industry group, Mike Najarian and Ann Navarra have been supporters of City of Hope for decades, one of the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the United States and a leading research center for diabetes and other life-threatening illnesses.
And both became patients during the past couple of years, now sharing their stories to highlight the lifesaving care available there.
For more than 30 years, Najarian and his family-owned business, Najarian Furniture, have supported City of Hope through IHFI events. In fall 2019, Najarian was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer that starts in white blood cells. His disease was in Stage 4, which meant it had spread outside the lymph system.
For the next five months, he went for treatment every three weeks, each time staying for five nights.
“It always starts with people in anything you do, and there are no words to describe the care you receive from every single person you encounter at City of Hope,” said Najarian. “They work collectively, follow the protocol, explain everything so you know what to expect without giving you false hope.”
Last month, Najarian celebrated two years in remission. “You could see the difference (City of Hope) makes in the lives of the patients,” he said. “You could see in the patients’ faces — the positive attitude, professionalism and kindness that help save lives.”
Navarra came to City of Hope for the first time last fall to resolve medication issues she had been experiencing since her second breast cancer surgery in fall 2020. Her first diagnosis was 30 years earlier.
Navarra is co-owner of Southern California-based retail chain Jerome’s Furniture, which has donated to City of Hope for decades. “From the parking attendant to the person who walked me through the buildings like a sister by my side to the staff in the cafeteria, the caring keeps on going through every person and everything they do,” she said.
Najarian and Navarra encourage the industry to continue its strong support through the upcoming West Coast Golf & Tennis Tournament, one of the two flagship events hosted by the IHFI in support of City of Hope.
This year, the IHFI will honor Roy Hester, senior vice president and managing director of Planned Furniture Promotions, with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the June 13 event.