The Legacy of Coreen Oshiro Herzog

Coreen Oshiro Herzog was 12 when she was diagnosed with her second cancer: osteosarcoma and chondrosarcoma. Treatment for best chance of survival was radical surgery and extensive chemotherapy. Coreen never grieved the loss of her leg or her silky hair. She boldly faced each bag of poison to kill the cancer. Her DNA was to be resilient.

Life took a detour to a Pediatric Oncology wing where children and families were connected by an exclusive mission: to survive. The children made new friends, played, and waited for their turn to celebrate Last Chemo Day.

During a visit to New York for a surgical follow-up and a new prosthesis, she watched as Big Apple clowns entertained the children. They were silly, engaging and very colorfully decked with bows, flowers, hats, and big shoes. One of the clowns wore a cancer survivor button that an adult survivor had created to celebrate a milestone of being cancer-free. Coreen had collected souvenir buttons and was inspired to make one for herself later to celebrate Last Chemo Day.

Coreen’s body and energy were exhausted after enduring endless weeks of chemo treatments. She quietly acknowledged that she may not be able to finish the final weeks of chemo which had become more toxic. Coping with the side effects of surgery and chemo had slowed to increments of get through this hour, this afternoon, this day, and this week. A reset of expectations was needed.

One of the reset actions was for Coreen to work on her souvenir button for celebration of Last Chemo Day. She wanted a button and it had to be her own drawing. Sounds easy, but being constantly drugged or nauseated, it took several attempts for her to create a clean reproducible drawing using no technology.

Coreen recognized that the foundation of survivorship was love and dedication of family, friends, supporters, and the medical community. An affirmation of “I can do this” also meant “I can survive”. Last Chemo Day in January 1994 was celebrated with cookies and souvenir buttons.

In 1995 Coreen and her parents were honored that a small gesture of what began as an exercise in a survivor’s toolbox would be transformed into a logo. Coreen never looked back and was glad to have a part in HCCF’s beginnings. -Karen Oshiro

February is the month we think about love and hearts. Please consider opening your heart and making a generous donation to HCCF in honor of our beautiful and brave logo creator, Coreen, whose forever legacy inspires other children diagnosed with cancer and their families. #coreenslegacy #pleasegivegenerously #helpingcancerfamilies