Not many people would call cancer a blessing but Cindy Hook does. For all the things cancer has taken away, she says it's given her more to be thankful for.
"I used to think I was grateful for my family and job," said Cindy Hook. "No, this gratefulness is so huge I can't even describe it."
But without research and advancements in treatment, Hook, and her bright smile, might not be here today.
"Literally it's a very hot field. And every day there are new discoveries in science," said Dr. Ravi Patel of the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center.
One new discovery over the past year is already saving lives.
"In lung cancer there is a specialized cat scan we can do that literally takes minutes. And we can pick up lung cancer much earlier," Dr. Patel said.
By picking up the cancer earlier and starting treatment, Dr. Patel says the patient has a 20% better chance of surviving.
And scientists are learning to understand cancer on a more personalized basis.
"A lot of new treatments have come about and the treatments are based on understanding the genetics of the cancer," Dr. Patel said. "What we can do based on newer discoveries is really tailor a treatment, perfecting it to that individual's cancer."
That's exactly what they did for Janet Vucinich. She was part of a clinical trial done in Bakersfield last year using this new science. The drug, Crizotinib, was approved last summer.
And as Lori Muir stands below what will soon be Bakersfield's newest cancer center, she can't help but be excited about the technology as well.
"We've had dramatic advances based on doing research. we know that we can get our radiation beams more precise," said Lori Muir, Director of the San Joaquin Cancer Center.
Two machines they'll soon be installing, called Trubeam Linear Accelerators, help spare healthy tissue while administering radiation.
Trubeam basically breathes with you, starting and stopping radiation with each breath, so it doesn't hit anything but the cancer.
For Hook, similar technology called the Cyber Knife, was used to treat her brain tumor.
Breakthroughs like these are happening all the time and the ones we find tomorrow, might just give another cancer patient the same healing and hope that radiates from Cindy Hook.
"I just had recent brain MRI, and it's completely clean. And I am so grateful," said Hook.