by Neena Strichart
Dear readers, we at the Signal Tribune were recently sent a press release pertaining to a new book written by local oncologist Dr. Robert Nagourney. A copy of the book was included in the envelope. Knowing that the author was the man I regard as the individual who saved my mother’s life, I couldn’t wait to share with her both the book and the accompanying public-relations details.
When I presented Mother with the book, I asked her to read it and to then write down information on her experience with the author in order for me to share it with our readers. Below are Mother’s comments, and on page 7 you will find the press release about the book. Please, if you know anyone who is battling cancer, pass this information along. I know I am grateful that we were blessed with the referral.
Some eight years ago, at around age 85, I was diagnosed as being in stage four of ovarian cancer with a life expectancy of one year. With all of the horror stories I had heard pertaining to the sickness, loss of hair, and just overall disability, I decided that I would have nothing to do with chemotherapy. So if I died, I died. With that, I requested the services of hospice care.
My daughter Neena, my only child, gave me no argument. However, she did discuss the situation with Dr. Ronald Bitter, her own primary-care physician. He told her about oncologist Dr. Robert Nagourney, associated with Long Beach Memorial Hospital who had established a laboratory– Rational Therapeutics. According to Neena’s doctor, Dr. Nagourney was working on a program to develop a chemo program using a patient’s individual tissue to find a combination of drugs that worked, killing the cancer cells of that particular person. Dr. Bitter strongly urged Neena to encourage me to seek advice from Dr. Nagourney, or at least explore other options before totally giving up on a chance for a longer and cancer-free life. And so I did.
How could I refuse the possibility that there was hope for treatment that might not be as devastating as I feared! I was only in my mid-80s in age. If I could beat that devastating disease, I might have a few productive years left in me after all.
Not only were Neena and I mother and daughter, but best friends, with no other close family around us. So I agreed to an interview with Dr. Nagourney. I asked for, and received, copies of the medical history pertaining to my cancer from my Kaiser Permanente oncologist, and an appointment was scheduled with Dr. Nagourney. At the conclusion of that meeting I opted to proceed with Dr. Nagourney’s plan to develop a formula that could very well save my life. And it did.
With formula in hand I took it to the Kaiser oncologist who had the duty to give me the original bad news and asked him if they (Kaiser) would administer the chemotherapy as indicated in the report. Without a word he stepped outside the room, returning very shortly. After making a quick call to Dr. Nagourney, my own physician walked back in the room and announced that he would indeed use the formula.
Seeing that I was not having any of the problems I so dreaded, with nausea or other side effects, Neena stopped insisting that she had to drive me to my chemo sessions approximately 18 miles round-trip each day, and I proceeded to drive myself.
I not only had no need for a single one of the nausea pills prescribed, and to my utter amazement and delight I did not lose my hair. And now, seven years later, according to my new Kaiser oncologist, I am still cancer free.
I’ve lost track of dates and have not kept a diary, but during some of this time I’ve had the pleasure of the acquaintance of Dr. Nagourney’s parents, who were fellow residents of the Bixby Knolls senior retirement home of which we were all residents at the time.
With that introduction of myself and my personal experience with this remarkable physician and scientist, I have just had the pleasure of reading Dr. Robert Nagourney’s just-published book Outliving Cancer. What an awesome education he has had, the prestigious medical schools he has attended, the dedication to this work. It makes me humble to think that I am alive and well at age 93 years and 8 months– some seven years after being given a verdict of incurable, stage-four cancer.