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Active Scripps Patients Score Comebacks

Local residents and Scripps Health patients share positive medical comeback stories

Scripps recently invited San Diegans to share their personal medical comeback stories. These local residents overcame illnesses and returned to the activities they love, with the help of their Scripps physicians.

Rob Blase of Ramona rides a wave.

Scripps Health recently invited San Diegans to share their personal medical comeback stories. These local residents overcame illnesses and returned to the activities they love, with the help of their Scripps physicians.

Russ Zinser, Encinitas

Zinser was an avid runner in the early ’80s. But when he suffered knee injuries and underwent a series of tests, he was diagnosed with leukemia.


Zinser found a blood marrow donor among his 12 siblings and received a successful transplant at Scripps Green Hospital, which started the county’s first blood and marrow transplant program in 1980. Under Dr. Bill Miller’s care, Zinser was running again six months after his transplant and has been cancer-free ever since.


Throughout the transplant process, Zinser focused on surpassing his former physical fitness. Today at 60, he keeps fit with running, hiking, yoga and golf. He’s also embraced writing, music, wood carving — and regularly offers encouragement to Scripps patients preparing for transplants.

Rob Blase, Ramona

Blase surfed professionally in his 20s, but eventually hung up his board to start a family and career. By his late 30s he began experiencing blurred vision, weight loss and excessive thirst. Tests eventually revealed type 1 diabetes.


Blase resumed surfing as a form of exercise to help his diabetes. But his blood glucose level dropped while surfing, which increased his risk of passing out in the water. He initially coped by always surfing with buddies and later improved his blood glucose level by switching from insulin injections to a waterproof insulin pump.


With support from Dr. Sandeep Chaudhary, Blase now has his diabetes well under control. He consistently reaches the finals of his tournaments, with several wins to his credit. He also gives back by counseling youths with diabetes.

Lydia Morales Hoffman, San Diego

A ballerina in her youth, Morales Hoffman has danced professionally or taught ballet for most of her life. So when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 50s, she knew she was approaching the disease from a position of physical strength.


Morales Hoffman applied a dancer’s discipline to her battle against cancer. A positive attitude, good diet and consistent exercise helped her through two surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. She even taught ballet in the midst of treatments, drawing inspiration from her supportive students.


With her mind, body and spirit renewed, Morales Hoffman keeps fit today with ballet, yoga, Pilates and swimming. She credits her recovery to her own balanced approach, along with the care of Drs. Joan Kroener and Ray Lin.