Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Fairhaven Memorial


Fullerton native emerges from two-year battle with cancer to pursue a career in physical therapy

FULLERTON, Calif. – June 26, 2013 – At age 17, Jose Hidalgo found himself entrenched in a two-year battle with abdominal cancer. As he faced the pain and uncertainty of extensive chemotherapy treatments and invasive surgery, he found comfort and strength in the team of dedicated caregivers who surrounded him each day. “They made me feel like part of the family,” says Hidalgo.

It was here in this time of great adversity that the Fullerton Native decided to pursue a career in the medical field, where he could return the favor. Now 29, Hidalgo is a staffing coordinator at Santa Ana’s Western Medical Center and is preparing to embark on the next phase of his inspiring journey; a doctoral program in physical therapy.

Hidalgo is being honored as the June recipient of Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Award. Fairhaven, an Orange County mortuary and memorial park with locations in Santa Ana and Mission Viejo, created the recognition program in 2012 to pay tribute to individuals who have demonstrated exceptional care in their profession, community and the world at large.

“Jose’s story is one of passion, selflessness and dedication,” said Marla Noel, president of Fairhaven. “He teaches us that caring for others has the power to change the course of someone’s life.”

The son of Guatemalan immigrants, Hidalgo always understood the importance of seizing opportunity, serving as a role model for his younger sisters and willingly embracing the challenge of balancing work and school. He would become the first member of his family to graduate college, obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology from Cal State Fullerton.

A seminal moment in his education occurred when he worked at the University’s Center for Successful Aging. “It was like a gym for the elderly, helping to restore them through rehabilitation and exercise,” says Hidalgo. “This helped me realize my passion for serving the elderly population.” As a result, Hidalgo hopes to pursue a career in assisting the elderly with their physical therapy needs as he embarks on his doctoral study.

As he endures the arduous process of applying to graduate school, Hidalgo serves as the staffing coordinator for the night shift at Western Medical Center, where he assesses the needs of the patient population and ensures that the floor is appropriately staffed with nurses. He also is involved in decedent affairs, engaging with staff and families during the difficult time of a patient’s passing.

If you ask Hidalgo what caring means to him, he always goes back the harrowing two years he spent in the hospital, overwhelmed by the care of others. “Caring is treating a total stranger like family,” he says. “It’s one thing when medicine can help someone heal, but it’s truly inspiring when a caregiver can make someone feel better. It’s the human component of the healing process.”

Hidalgo will be honored at Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Awards banquet in the fall at Fairhaven’s Mission Viejo location. The banquet honors a year’s worth of achievements among the local community. Additionally, Fairhaven will make a donation to Manos International, an organization dedicated to educating children in impoverished areas throughout the world.

About Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Award

Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Award pays tribute to Orange County individuals whose kindness and dedication to serving others is inspirational. These courageous individuals go above and beyond their job descriptions to serve with the utmost care and compassion. Fairhaven’s Oliver Halsell Care Award winners come from many fields including private care, hospice, social work, counseling, assisted living, nursing, therapy and volunteer work.

For more information and to nominate a deserving candidate, visit Fairhaven’s website: or email

About Fairhaven

Founded in 1911 by Oliver Halsell to provide a peaceful and comforting place for families to honor their loved ones, Fairhaven Memorial Park & Mortuary is Orange County’s most beautiful independently owned and operated full-service mortuary, crematory and cemetery. With the memorial park and mortuary in Central Orange County and an elegantly appointed mortuary in South Orange County, Fairhaven provides funeral, cremation and burial services both at the time of need and through advanced planning, maintaining its steadfast commitment to care and compassion. Fairhaven is dedicated to celebrating the individual, providing services that are as unique and wide-ranging as the people they celebrate. Additional information is available at Connect with Fairhaven at or

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By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

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