Rick Sherman was cleared for a fishing trip to Hawaii two months after Hoag surgeons removed the lymph nodes from his right arm pit. At the time, Rick had undergone one of three life-saving procedures after being diagnosed with metastatic melanoma in 2016. Life was good and, after a 40-year legal career, avid fisherman Rick was ready to enjoy one of his favorite sports. But, nine days after he returned home from Hawaii, he was back at Hoag facing his greatest challenge yet.
A Rare Procedure
When Rick arrived at the emergency room, doctors discovered a complication from Streptococcus pneumoniae. After a series of bronchoscopies, a surgical team led by Daryl P. Pearlstein, M.D., and Brian Dickinson, M.D., performed a right thoracotomy with an Eloesser flap. “It is an extremely rare procedure,” Rick says. “But these doctors knew of it and, thanks to their knowledge and skill, they saved my life.”
The 21 days he spent in the hospital were some of his darkest moments. The pain and frustration of being back in the hospital tested his spirit. There were some close calls, but the nursing team’s vigilance and attention pulled him through. They also made every effort to ensure the comfort of his family, who spent nights at his bedside.
“Sometimes, institutions focus more on the body than the rest of the person,” he says. “Hoag nurses and the doctors went out of their way to keep my spirits up. Thanks to them, I can spend extra time with my children and enjoy my life.”
Giving Back in Gratitude
Rick’s experiences as a Hoag patient reinforce his drive to serve as a volunteer leader. In 2016, his good friend and neighbor Jim Coufos asked if Rick had any interest in supporting Hoag. Rick’s answer was an emphatic ‘yes’ and he joined the Hoag Family Cancer Institute Campaign Advisory Committee. Even though he had firsthand experience with the surgeons, nurses and advanced technologies and facilities, he enjoys learning all the ways Hoag is growing its programs and services.
He also made a generous gift to Hoag in gratitude for what was given to him.
“We are blessed to have Hoag,” he says. “I’m proof that miracles can happen, especially at Hoag!”
For more information on making a gift to the Hoag Melanoma/Advanced Skin Cancer Program, please contact Gwen Ritter, executive director of development, at (949) 764-7209 or Gwen.Ritter@hoag.org.