Orange County chef thanks his daughter, medical team for his chance at beating cancer

Jessica De Nova Image
Thursday, November 23, 2023
OC chef thanks his daughter, doctors for his chance at beating cancer
After being diagnosed with a rare blood cancer, an Orange County chef found hope thanks to a donation from his daughter in France and the help of his medical team.

ORANGE, Calif. (KABC) -- After being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive blood cancer, a well-known Orange County chef found hope thanks to a donation from his daughter in France and the help of his medical team at UCI Health.

Pascal Olhats was brought to tears as thought about the moment in March when he knew he had another chance to fight his cancer. He had already relapsed after chemotherapy.

Saving him from his T-cell lymphoma were stem cells from his daughter who lives in France.

"It's very special, and so it was very emotional for me to be in the hospital and see something coming from my daughter from so far away," Olhats said.

The cells journeyed overnight from the procedure in Belgium, to the UCI Health Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

This is the only place in Orange County where Olhats could find the bone marrow transplant program he needed.

Dr. Stefan Ciurea is the professor of clinical medicine and director of the Stem Cell Transplant and Cellular Therapy Program at the center.

"It is a very complex procedure, probably one of the most complex procedures in medicine, and probably one of the riskiest because we're not giving chemotherapy only," Ciurea said. "We're changing the patient's, recipient's immune system and that exposes one to higher risks, especially infectious complications."

Olhats isn't one to back down from a challenge.

He credited his passion for bringing people joy through food as a chef and restaurant owner in O.C. for the drive to face this illness after his diagnosis in 2018.

"We go for a lot of challenge, when you own a restaurant business, and it's probably what gave me the strength to go for these challenges," Olhats said.

The medical team here-now like family to the 69 year old-credited his positivity.

Dr. Lauren Pinter-Brown, a clinical professor of medicine and dermatology at the center, said she often saw attitude made a difference.

"When people are very affirmative and very positive, and they have good family support, they just do better and he's a great example of that," Pinter-Brown said.

Olhats said he looks forward to teaching his culinary courses at Saddleback College.