January 24, 2024

A full-circle journey for one cancer survivor

Grateful for compassionate and successful Hodgkin lymphoma treatment at Kaiser Permanente as a young adult, Jo Everett was inspired to return as a psychiatrist.

Jo Everett, MD, (right) today works in the same Kaiser Permanente mental health clinic where she trained as a medical school resident.

When Jo Everett, MD, an adult psychiatrist at the Kaiser Permanente San Bernardino Mental Health Offices, was preparing to begin her senior year of college at the University of San Diego, she never imagined the dramatic shift her life was about to take.

An alarming discovery

Over the Labor Day weekend in 2006, persistent shortness of breath prompted Everett to visit the Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center. An X-ray revealed a collapsed lung and what looked like an enlarged heart. It was later discovered to be a tumor.

Everett was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system, which is part of the body's immune system. With Hodgkin lymphoma, white blood cells called lymphocytes can become abnormal or increase in number and grow out of control. They often form tumors, usually in the lymph nodes of the neck, armpits, or chest. As the cancer progresses, it limits the body's ability to fight infection.

Chemotherapy and radiation treatment took a physical and emotional toll on Everett, making it difficult for her to balance school assignments. She decided to postpone her education as treatment became the priority.

However, there were some bright spots and cause for optimism. Everett got engaged and passed the time while in chemotherapy treatments by planning her wedding, which would take place the following June.

“The chemotherapy nurses were amazing,” said Everett. “They were very encouraging and supportive.”

Motivated to make a difference

She also applied to medical school during the treatment period and was accepted into the Loma Linda University School of Medicine. She initially wanted to become an oncologist, just like her dad. But her cancer fight inspired her to pursue a career as a psychiatrist and help people working through recovery and mental health conditions.

Today, Everett’s life has come full circle. “I was treated for cancer at Kaiser Permanente in my twenties, and with my successful treatment was able to go on to complete medical school and residency. I have now come back to treat other Kaiser Permanente patients,” she said.

Kaiser Permanente has played a significant role in all aspects of Everett’s life. She is now clear of cancer, and she works in the same clinic where she trained as a resident. She has 2 children who were both delivered at the Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center.

“I am very grateful to Kaiser Permanente,” said Everett. “Surviving cancer has given me and my husband a new outlook on life. We do our best to be aware of and grateful for all the positive things in our lives. We have made it a goal to celebrate even the little moments.”

Research shows patients diagnosed with cancer and treated at Kaiser Permanente live longer, healthier lives than people who get care through other health care organizations. Learn more about our approach to cancer care.