City of Hope Orange County Joins with The White Ribbon Project to Change the Lung Cancer Story


 The organizations address misconceptions and highlight breakthroughs during Lung Cancer Awareness Month


  • Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in Orange County. Yet, only nine percent of Orange County adults currently smoke cigarettes.
  • Not only the disease of people who smoke or used to smoke, the mortality rate for lung cancer among women and certain minority communities continues to rise.
  • New treatments are available for even the most aggressive forms and later stages of the disease.


(November 16, 2021, Irvine, CA) Countering the myth that lung cancer is only a disease of people who smoke and has mostly negative outcomes, City of Hope Orange County is raising awareness for the wide-ranging population at risk and educating those who are diagnosed of game-changing advances in treatment.

“Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in Orange County. City of Hope is responding to this pressing need by bringing our world-renowned lung cancer experts and pioneering research closer to home for patients and their families,” said Annette M. Walker, President, City of Hope Orange County. “We are here for everyone impacted by this disease.”

To help educate the public, City of Hope Orange County is joining with The White Ribbon Project, an international organization dedicated to promoting awareness about lung cancer, during Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Together, they are addressing lung cancer incidence in the community and speaking out about available resources for prevention, early detection, and highly specialized lung cancer care.

“There’s a real need to separate lung cancer facts from fiction. Although people who smoke and  people exposed to secondhand smoke are at high risk, it can impact anyone with lungs at just about any age,” says Edward S. Kim, MD, M.B.A., City of Hope Orange County Physician-in-Chief and renowned lung cancer specialist. “Perhaps even more importantly, advanced cancer centers like City of Hope are working on new therapies that offer better outcomes than even a decade ago.”

White ribbons — the lung cancer awareness movement symbol — are on display on the Wishing Trees at each of the four City of Hope Orange County locations in Huntington Beach, Irvine Sand Canyon, Newport Beach Fashion Island, and Newport Beach Lido. Wishing Trees feature hangtags with life-affirming messages from patients, families, and community members. They are a City of Hope hallmark that serve as reminders of the organization’s vision – turning hope into reality for people facing cancer.

Heidi Onda co-founded The White Ribbon Project with her husband Pierre, a primary care physician, after being diagnosed with advanced stage lung cancer three years ago. She had no known risk factors or symptoms and did not know then that anyone could get the disease.


She has since learned the sobering statistics about the disease, which kills more people than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined and is the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women.

“Why isn’t this common knowledge?” she said, adding that radon exposure is the number one cause of lung cancer for people who have never smoked. “The White Ribbon Project aims to increase awareness of the facts about lung cancer by changing the public perception of the disease.  Lung cancer can happen to anyone, no one deserves it, and we need to talk about it.”

Danny Nguyen, M.D., a medical oncologist and hematologist who treats patients at City of Hope Huntington Beach and City of Hope Irvine Sand Canyon, says people reduce some of the risk factors for lung cancer through lifestyle but other factors like age and genetic mutations cannot be controlled.  “I have patients in their 30s and 40s who have been diagnosed with lung cancer despite having never smoked,” he said.

Lung cancer survivor and grateful patient Sherman Johnson, who is benefitting from Dr. Nguyen’s expertise and personalized care, attests to the lifesaving benefits of lung cancer research and clinical trials.

“Lung Cancer Awareness Month is an ideal time to call attention to the impact of this disease on smokers and non-smokers alike, as well as the need for greater funding of lung cancer research that is leading to breakthroughs in treatment,” said Johnson, who never smoked. “My lung cancer story was changed by pioneering science, and it may change yours.”

For more information on City of Hope Orange County, lung cancer screening, and lung cancer programs, visit