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April 2009 Issue

Meeting Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee was a dream come true for patient Chris Cooper. Pictured (from left to right) at the meeting are Cooper’s father-in-law George Stephens, band members Tommy Lee and Vince Neil, Cooper’s mother-in-law Mindy Stephens, Cooper and his wife, Kyla.
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Oncology Team Helps Make Patient's Wish to Meet Motley Crue Drummer Come True

By Amanda Harper
Published April 2009

Some caring nurses with UC Physicians (UCP), a dedicated wife and a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based nonprofit made cancer patient Chris Cooper’s lifelong dream come true.

Cooper, age 33 of Milford, has been fighting colorectal cancer for more than a year. It’s been a tough battle, but “he’s a real fighter,” according to his wife, Kyla Cooper.

“Chris is my hero. He maintains a positive spirit even through more than 30 chemotherapy treatments,” says Kyla.

His care team—including UCP medical oncologist Leslie Oleksowicz, MD, oncology nurse Ginger Love and his wife—agrees Cooper is a perpetually positive guy but even he was having a hard time staying 100 percent upbeat during treatment.

“We all think Chris is an inspiring guy who deserves the absolute best, so we wanted to do something to keep his spirits up,” says Love, hematology/oncology nurse manager for UCP.

Summoning their inner fairy godmothers, Oleksowicz, Love and Kyla got together and requested a “wish fulfillment” from the Dream Foundation.

The nonprofit is the first and largest national wish granting organization for adults with life-limiting illness. In just a few short weeks, Love got a call from the foundation telling her it wanted to give Cooper his dream.

His dream? To meet the drummer for rock band Motley Crue: Tommy Lee.

Cooper went to his first Motley Crue concert about 20 years ago and has always been a fan. Lee is one of the people who inspired him to play drums.

The Milford couple and Cooper’s in-laws traveled to Erie, Pa., in late March for VIP treatment arranged by the Dream Foundation, including prime seats, backstage passes and a private dinner with Lee before the Motley Crue concert.

“The entire experience was amazing. Tommy Lee was so sweet and humble and seemed to instantly bond with Chris,” says Kyla. “It was one of the best weekends of our life. I think the experience gave Chris the adrenaline to push forward in his treatment and keep fighting. We’re very thankful to everyone who made this possible.”

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), 90 percent of all early-stage colorectal cancers are curable, and about 75 percent of Americans who get the disease are over age 50.

The ACS recommends that all adults get an initial colorectal screening exam at age 50, with periodic surveillance exams to follow.

People with a family history of colon polyps or colon cancer should begin screening at age 40, or earlier if young relatives are affected. Cooper has a significant family history of cancer; several of his uncles were affected before they were 30.

After his diagnosis, Cooper insisted his brothers and sister be screened and urges everyone with a family history similar to his to be screened beginning at age 25.

To schedule a colorectal screening exam, call (513) 475-7505. To find a specialist with UC Physicians, visit

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