Hoag Family Cancer Institute
Our Stories


An Extraordinary Woman

When you meet Leticia Medici she is quiet and unassuming. Once you sit down and talk with her, you quickly realize she is a rare woman of courage, faith and strength.

At the age of 19, Leticia arrived from the Philippines to fulfill a promise to her older sister, who was dying from breast cancer, to raise her children. In a short time, Leticia became a mother to three small children. She married and had a fourth child. At only 22 years old, she was widowed. But guided by her deep faith, she pushed through loss and found love with her second husband and increased her beautiful family to a total of seven children.

“We had nothing, but she always had food on the table for everyone and our neighbors,” daughter Lorri Galloway remembers. Leticia smiles proudly when she reveals that today she has 17 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Lorri gives all credit to her mom for having the compassion and drive to care for abused children as co-founder and executive director of The Eli Home for Abused Children. She also served as a two-term Anaheim councilmember and mayor pro-tem.

“I learned audacity and a heart of service from her,” she says. “She is the kind of person I want to be.”

A Moment of Fear

When Leticia experienced stomach pains, she went to her primary care physician who sent her to have a CT scan that found a spot on her lower lung. A few months later, the spot grew. She went to a lung specialist who gave her the diagnosis of lung cancer and recommended she undergo thoracic robotic surgery. Her large, close-knit family experienced a terror that stopped them cold.

“My mother is the heart and soul of our family,” Lorri said. “What happened to her, happened to all of us. We weren’t ready to let her go.”

Although life dealt Leticia many challenges, she admits that this diagnosis caused her great fear. In 2017, she lost her husband to cancer.

Leticia’s cardiologist of nearly 30 years told her without hesitation that she needed to go to Hoag.

The Unexpected Birthday Gift

Everything changed on the day she met Daryl Pearlstein, M.D., program director for Hoag Lung Cancer Program and a board-certified, subspecialty-trained thoracic surgeon at the Hoag Family Cancer Institute.

“I am forever grateful,” Leticia says. “I liked him right away.” She was impressed that he took the time to sit down with her and explain everything. “He looked me in the eye and made sure I understood everything,” she says.

On July 24, 2019, her 80th birthday, Leticia underwent surgery with her family waiting at Hoag. “For me, this was my birthday present,” she says with a gentle smile.

Leticia spent five days at Hoag, grateful to receive care from the best doctors and nurses. “I had no pain,” she says. Although her family will not physically gather for her 2020 birthday due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she will celebrate the extra year of life she has been given.

“I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her,” Lorri says.

For more information on making a gift to the Hoag Family Cancer Institute, please contact Gwen Ritter, executive director of development, at (949) 764-7209 or Gwen.Ritter@hoag.org.

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