Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center
Chris Lopez had the time of his life on a two-week vacation to Southern California – a much-needed break from his culinary arts studies at Dallas College. But when he returned with an intense stomach pain that wouldn’t go away, even with antibiotics, he grew concerned. Eventually, a colonoscopy revealed the source of his extreme discomfort and a stunning diagnosis – a grapefruit-sized mass, stage 3 colon cancer.
“I just started bawling my eyes out,” Chris says. “I was so young. I had my whole life ahead of me.”
A surgeon suggested immediate surgery, before the cancer metastasized. He was told he might have to have a permanent ostomy. Overwhelmed, Chris reached out for a second opinion. “I called UT Southwestern Simmons Cancer Center, and right away, I felt this weight off my shoulders,” he says. “Everyone treated me with open arms.”
He remembers the comfort he felt from being told Simmons had a team of doctors and offered many types of treatments. “They assured me they were going to treat the cancer before it metastasized,” he says.
Within a month of meeting his oncology team, Chris began chemotherapy, followed by radiation treatments and then two surgeries. Less than a year later, he was declared cancer-free.
“When I heard the news, I was ecstatic,” he says. “I was screaming at the top of my lungs. I called my mom right away and held my wife for 10 minutes.”
He adds, “My team at Simmons was great. Dr. Syed Kazmi, my medical oncologist, was always optimistic, and my radiation oncologist, Dr. Nina Sanford, was always giving me hope.” He also recalls being keenly aware of Simmons’ state-of-the-art technology and facilities. “The whole time I was at Simmons Cancer Center I felt that everything was advanced.”
“The whole time I was at Simmons Cancer Center I felt that everything was advanced.”
Today, the dreams Chris feared might never be realized are back in full swing. A chef, he continues to plan toward completing his culinary degree at Dallas College, and he hopes to open his own food truck someday. He and his wife are also the proud parents of a “healthy, beautiful” 18-month-old-daughter.
“I feel more myself now, for sure,” Chris says. “I have a normal life now.”
Looking back, he says, “The doctors, the medical staff, all their resources – that’s why I chose to be a patient at Simmons Cancer Center.”