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Life on the Mesa: Hope Begins in the Dark

One man's quest to change the lives of lymphoma patients
Jamie Reno of The China Lymphoma Project

By Amanda Caniglia

Just Mesa’n around (out of town)

Attend the conference? Be my guest. But we both know where the real business goes down… at the after party baby. Run, walk, fly, carpool, thumb it… Just do what you can to get your ass on up to one of the biggest events of the year. It’s the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference Week in San Francisco. Biotech and life science companies, investors, and entrepreneurs will all be rubbing elbows in hopes of securing potential funding and strategic partnerships. I’d bet you $100 you know someone headed north this Sunday. For the past three years I have had customers repeatedly ask if I was attending. Rumor has it the parties that these groups throw are off the hook! Ladies and gents, they’ve also got the EBD Biotech Showcase going down the very same week. We are talking thousands of suits and ties descending on Union Square. San Francisco will be the ultimate place to network your way to your next deal. Be sure to show our friends on the Mesa, Biocom, some love as they will be hosting an event Sunday night to kick off the conference.

January 10, San Francisco

Biocom Wine Reception at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference week

Upcoming Events (I’ll be at the fun table…)

  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Winter Open House
    Tinder? Who needs those when you can actually meet like-minded people in person? UC San Diego Osher Lifelong Learning Institute hosts its 2016 winter open house. This is a membership program for the 50+ crowd interested in pursuing “intellectual interests and enriching their lives through lifelong learning.” Sounds like a cover for the “old”-timate hook-up club if you ask me. Kidding. This one needs an RSVP. Be sure to attach a headshot or selfie.
    January 9, 9:30 a.m., UCSD Extension Campus

  • Cuatro Corridos
    Cuatro Corridos returns to San Diego this January for Human Trafficking Awareness Month. This critically acclaimed chamber opera circles the lives of four women caught in the deadly cycle of prostitution and modern day slavery here along our U.S.-Mexico border. A topic that hits so close to home, many groups, from universities to non-profits such as La Maestra in City Heights to government agencies are tackling this issue while raising awareness among the general public. You’d be amazed how many San Diegans are completely unaware of what is going on in our own backyard. Cuatro Corridos is the brainchild of Grammy Award winning soprano Susan Narucki (UC San Diego alum, woot woot). Narucki collaborated with Mexican author Jorge Volpi and renowned composers Hilda Paredes, Arlene Sierra, Lei Liang and Herbert Vázquez.
    January 13, Free Symposium 5 p.m., Chamber Opera 7-9 p.m., Conrad Prebys Music Center. General fee $15, staff/faculty $10.50

  • Dart NeuroScience – TDLC Lecture Series and MIT Enterprise Forum
    Come on out to the Mesa’s social and intellectual hub, the Sanford Consortium, for back-to-back events. Double dippin’ in genius-ville with the Dart NeuroScience – TDLC Lecture Series followed by the MIT Enterprise Forum. The hippo-what-o? At 3 p.m., listen to Boston University’s Dr. Howard Eichenbaum as he shares his recent findings on the origins of temporal firing patterns in the hippocampus and what this means in regards to episodic memory. At 5 p.m., MIT Enterprise Forum brings us another fantastic series. What are local companies and teachers doing to educate our future workforce? Grab your kiddo and join in the discussion as this program spotlights our city’s brightest award-winning student entrepreneurs. Second panel includes experts from Qualcomm’s Thinkabit Lab, FabLab San Diego, Premierehire, ResMed and High Tech High. MC for the night is Reo Carr, Executive Editor of the San Diego Business Journal.
    January 13, 3 p.m. and 5-8.30 p.m., Sanford Consortium

Come sit by me…

Hope Begins in the Dark. What does this mean? For Jamie Reno, it was that poignant moment he decided to not go “gentle into that good night.” It was accepting his diagnosis and digging deep to find the strength to say “fuck cancer” and fight. 19 years later, Reno is still fighting for his life and for the lives of others as he brings to the Mesa his latest and perhaps most ambitious undertaking, The China Lymphoma Project.

Reno is an award-winning journalist who spent 20 years at Newsweek and has covered such big events as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the White House, 9/11, and the Beijing Olympics—but it is his story, his passion and persistence that I find most newsworthy. Realizing he could utilize his talents and global network to share his story of survival and the stories of several others who have been fighting lymphoma of all types, Reno wrote his book Hope Begins in the Dark. Reno then went on to pen a children’s book, Snowman on the Pitcher’s Mound, a story to help young children understand and cope with a parent who has been diagnosed with cancer. He’s also a singer-songwriter who had a major-label record deal and has recorded five albums including Survivors Songs, his greatest hits CD.

Reno has spent the last 15 years as a patient advocate and is ready to bring his efforts to China, a country in the throes of a cancer crisis.

Reno and I met at the BellaV last spring where I learned about his mission and plans for the re-write. Hope Begins in the Dark is a compilation of stories featuring such well-known Americans and lymphoma survivors as Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Chicago Cubs All-Star slugger Anthony Rizzo, and sometime San Diegan and former Red Sox and Padres boss Larry Lucchino, who all recount their personal stories of when they found hope.

This latest version will be in the Chinese language and feature stories of such Chinese survivors as Google China founder Kai-Fu Lee, as well as regular folks in China who have survived the disease. The China Lymphoma Project has grown in scope well beyond a simple book. Websites, videos, blogs, vlogs, counseling, and more will also be available for families in China.

On January 26, Reno will bring together China government officials, top China and U.S. cancer hospitals, China and U.S. biotech companies, renowned oncologists and cancer researchers, nonprofits and other philanthropic organizations, to launch his new project and discuss and brainstorm further collaboration in what is the very first advocacy project for China’s in-need lymphoma cancer patients and their families. Reno comments, “It’s never been done.” What better place than at the hub of the Mesa to feature these trailblazers?

Reno, along with his project partners—The Confucius Institute at San Diego State University and The Asian Heritage Society—is leading the way, bringing China a model for patient advocacy. This is an opportunity to help educate those in China and to give them the gift of hope. To let them know there is a way to beat lymphoma and that there are people in their country ready to hold their hand through the process.

“The China Lymphoma Project is completely funded by and dependent on tax-deductible educational grants from corporations, foundations and individuals,” Jamie says. “Any company or person doing business in China or with any interest in China or lymphoma would do well to support our project. And anyone who wants to continue to foster positive relations between these two great countries, on the ground, should join us.”

A list of speakers for the January 26 launch and conference:

  • Hua Liu, Consul for Science & Technology with the Chinese Consulate General in Los Angeles
  • Dr. Xiangming Fang, CEO at Denovo Biopharma
  • Dr. Cao Bin, Director at Fuda Cancer Hospital in Guangzhou
  • Dr. Stephen Nimer, lymphoma and leukemia expert from Memorial Sloan Kettering and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Professor Lilly Cheng, Director of the Confucius Institute and professor at San Diego State University
  • Colonel Deanna Won, US Air Force (Ret)/ physicist, China Expert, stage IV cancer survivor, integrative/holistic health coach, and motivational speaker
  • Dr. Junghong Li, President-Elect of the San Diego Chinese American Association and physician at UC San Diego trained in Beijing
  • Dr. Stefan Bossman, cancer researcher and professor at Kansas State University and senior adviser on cancer detection at China’s First Affiliated Hospital of Kunming Medical University
  • Dr. Shuo Liu, physician in Department of Scientific Research Management at Guang’anmen Hospital in Beijing

Life on the Mesa: Hope Begins in the Dark

Jamie Reno of The China Lymphoma Project

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