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Winship patient gives gifts, dresses up in costume to spread holiday cheer

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Alysia Satchel
Senior Manager, Media Relations

A patient at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University at Emory Johns Creek Hospital (EJCH) is using her creativity to cheer up other patients and take their minds off chemotherapy.

Naomi Ziva, 44, has stage IV metastatic colorectal cancer. Ziva recently dressed up as the Grinch and her friend, Jennifer, as Cindy Lou-who from Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." They passed out gifts to patients and staff before Ziva's chemotherapy treatment.

"As bad as many of us feel during chemo sessions, when I dress up in costume, I feel it's like taking a break from having cancer," says Ziva.

"If I can bring a smile to someone's face by doing this, it makes all the difference."

Ziva was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in June 2016. After two chemotherapy infusion treatments, Naomi and her friend decided to dress up as superheroes. Since then, Naomi has shown up for almost every chemotherapy treatment as a different character and passed out flowers. She has dressed up as the lamp shade from "A Christmas Story," Slash from Guns N' Roses, a WWE wrestler, Wonder Woman, and Madonna, among many others.

"Patients really look forward to seeing Naomi and what she's going to come up with next," says Ashley Kennedy, Winship at EJCH nurse manager.

Ziva says she's thankful for the care she's received at Winship at EJCH.

"When I came to Winship in Johns Creek a year ago, I immediately became friends with the people here. Without hesitation, they're here when I need them. They're like family," says Ziva.

Ziva hopes that other patients who are fighting similar battles will ask for help if they need it and try to remain positive on their uphill journey.

"There are days when I say, 'I can't do this' but, you must do your best to find your smile," says Ziva. "There's a million things about cancer that will push you to be defeated, but it's up to you to be happy," says Ziva.

For more information about cancer treatment at Winship, call 888-946-7447 (888-WINSHIP) or visit

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