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HOPE FOR CANCER VICTIMS SURVIVOR ASSISTS CAMPAIGN TO RAISE MONEY FOR RESEARCH.

Byline: Peggy Hager Staff Writer

PALMDALE - With the same determination that helped her through chemotherapy and multiple surgeries after a diagnosis with breast cancer, Priscilla Barboza is hoping to raise money for cancer research at City of Hope in Duarte.

As part of City of Hope's national fund-raising campaign, Barboza has designed a Basket of Hope that includes a limited-edition handcrafted ceramic basket decorated with a pink ceramic ribbon, the symbol for survivors of breast cancer.

``I'm just so thankful and grateful that they're doing what they're doing. Because without them I wouldn't be here,'' said Barboza, owner of All Seasons Gifts & Baskets in Palmdale. ``They gave me my life back.''

The Basket of Hope is a white wicker basket decorated with pink ribbons and roses. It contains the 3-inch ceramic basket, an aroma therapy necklace, a ``worry'' rock, an angel note pad, a Victorian picture frame, an aroma therapy candle, an inspirational book and a macrame bracelet.

Barboza was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in August 2001 and had her first surgery in September that same year. This was her second brush with death, having just recovered from injuries suffered a year earlier in a rollover car accident. While recovering from the car accident, Barboza felt lumps in her breast but was told by doctors they were probably related to the crash injuries.

``The doctors told me don't worry about it, it's going to go away. It takes a year for a body to heal,'' said Barboza.

It was after her yearly checkup that she was given the news.

Married with two children, Barboza was shocked. She had always exercised and eaten healthy foods, and she had no family history of cancer. She thought her life was over until she went to City of Hope for treatment.

``The doctors there were so compassionate. They understood that I did not like doctors. I did not like hospitals,'' said Barboza. ``Basically it was a team that was put together that took me through every little step. They sat me down, told me exactly what was going to happen, what was expected, my diagnosis, my chances for survival and recurrence. At that point I was convinced that I was going to die. I did not have that will and that positiveness about it in hearing all the things that were going on with my body. But they convinced me to go through the surgeries and the treatment, and I'm so glad that I stuck with it.''

An emotional setback occurred after her first surgery. She went in for surgery Sept. 10. She awoke the next day to see on television the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Barboza grew up in Connecticut, and New York was her playground.

``Seeing these buildings it almost represented a body being torn apart, and that was me,'' said Barboza. ``I said, you know what, I've got to do something to rebuild, to help me.''

She had her husband bring in clay for therapy and came up with the hope basket. It represents hope, compassion and love, said Barboza.

Barboza made ceramic baskets that she handed out to other patients. Then she was chosen to design four baskets for this year's campaign, which began Sunday.

``Everybody needs hope. Even people who don't have cancer, at this time they need hope,'' said Barboza. ``I saw their faces when I gave it to them. They all just lit up because it meant something to them.''

After four surgeries, Barboza has been in remission for six months and has a positive outlook on life. She and five friends have formed a group called Hands for Hope and offer assistance to other cancer patients in the Antelope Valley.

Four baskets will be presented quarterly, each with a new collectible basket.

Twenty friends are ready to help her process orders in the next few weeks with possible plans to rent a warehouse when the bulk of the orders come in. ``This will be my lifelong mission to find a cure for cancer,'' Barboza said. ``As long as they will have me do this, I'll be there.''

The basket and other items can be viewed and purchased online at allseasonsgifts.com or at All Season's Gifts and Baskets, 2728 E. Palmdale Blvd., Suite 112.

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

Jeff Goldwater/Staff Photographer

(1 -- color) Priscilla Barboza designs small ceramic baskets that are included with each Basket of Hope gift assortment.

(2 -- color) Priscilla Barboza was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. She said she owes a debt to City of Hope, where she was treated. ``Without them I wouldn't be here,'' said Barboza. ``They gave me my life back.''

Jeff Goldwater/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 5, 2003
Words:786
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