As part of the International Home Furnishings Industry group, Mike Najarian and Ann Navarra have been supporters of City of Hope for decades, but they never imagined they would one day be in need of care from City of Hope, one of the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the U.S and a leading research center for diabetes and other life-threatening illnesses.
Both became patients during the last couple of years and are now sharing their stories to highlight the lifesaving care available there.
City of Hope has been the philanthropic partner of the furniture industry since 1965, when the International Home Furnishings Industry (IHFI) group formed to support it.
For more than 30 years, Najarian and his family-owned business, Najarian Furniture, have supported City of Hope through IHFI events, raising awareness and support for cancer treatment innovation and care. 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. Though he had donated to City of Hope for decades, he realized that he actually “knew very little” about the cancer center and the level of best-in-class care it provides.
“People. 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 and recalled what he saw during his treatments at City of Hope, “You could see the difference [City of Hope] makes in the lives of the patients. You could see in the patients’ faces — the positive attitude, professionalism and kindness that help save lives.”
No stranger to cancer, 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. Navarra said she has become an individual supporter since her personal experience at the National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center.
“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,” Navarra 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. Formed in 1965 by a group of dedicated industry and community leaders, the IHFI is one of City of Hope’s oldest and most successful industry-based chapters, having raised nearly $100 million to advance leading-edge research and treatment innovation for the benefit of patients and families everywhere.
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.