The Cancer Health 25 is an annual list that honors individuals who have made a difference in the lives of people with cancer. This year’s theme is quality of life. To see the full list, click here.
As an Emmy Award–winning TV news anchor and health reporter, Loriana Hernandez-Aldama knows how to gather information and share it. That skill set helped save her life—and later improve the health of countless others—when in 2014, at 41 years old, she was undergoing fertility treatments and the blood tests revealed she had acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Her research led her to the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at John Hopkins in Baltimore, where she endured a grueling 10 months of chemotherapy and then a successful bone marrow transplant before returning home to Texas to her husband and 2-year-old son. She faced a 25% chance of survival.
On the very day she was celebrating five years cancer-free, Hernandez-Aldama learned she had breast cancer. But this time, she felt calm, prepared, even optimistic. “It was the unexpected gift I got from being able to survive leukemia,” she tells the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
She elected to have a prophylactic mastectomy and is once again cancer-free.
Today, she uses her journalism talents to share her wisdom with both cancer survivors and the general public. During her leukemia treatment, she recounted to ASCO, her doctor told her that “the decisions we make every day regarding the food we eat, the amount of stress we allow into our lives, our level of exercise and our spiritual and financial foundation prepare us for how well we can cope when faced with a health crisis.” She now lives by that dictum and has given it a name: pre-habilitation.
Hence, the title of her book, Becoming the Story: The Power of PREhab. Through the book and her motivational speaking engagements, she inspires people to follow her 3P protocol: Prepare, Present and Prevail. As the founder and CEO of ArmorUp for Life, a nonprofit patient-advocacy group, she speaks up for underserved and marginalized communities and encourages people to improve their overall health and wellness and get physically fit (to prehab and reduce their risk). Doing so, she maintains, will help prepare folks for future illness.
Whether sharing her story with fellow survivors, promoting her brand of pre-habilitation on national news shows or inspiring business leaders to prioritize their health, Hernandez-Aldama, now 49, remains committed to improving everyone’s quality of life.
“What keeps me moving forward,” she told ASCO, “is my determination to raise my son, advocate for other cancer survivors facing similar challenges and work with the oncology community to support a whole-patient approach to care to improve patients’ experience and outcomes.”