A Light in The Darkness
Stephen Shirley’s life saved twice by Providence St. Joseph Hospital
Every day, thousands of patients, like Stephen Shirley, rely on Providence St. Joseph Hospital for another chance at life. However, Stephen was out of options. His stage 4 melanoma had spread, and he was looking at months, not years. There was no treatment and no cure. What started as a lump in his neck, was now a death sentence for the then 81-year-old Stephen who is an executive director of JP Morgan Advisors in Newport Beach.
“I remember looking at my scan and seeing little yellow specks all over my body,” shares Stephen. “They were in my heart, lungs, bowels, everywhere. My doctor told me those malignant specks were going to shorten my life.”
Hope turns to joy
That’s when the Laguna Beach resident was referred to Providence St. Joseph Hospital oncologist Timothy Byun, M.D., for another chance at life. Dr. Byun told Stephen about a clinical trial taking place at the hospital. It was far from a sure thing but there was a chance it could make a difference, and quickly. He was accepted into the trial, and after a few weeks of treatment, Dr. Byun called Stephen in for a new CT scan.
“It was one of those moments you never forget,” muses Stephen. “I noticed Dr. Byun and his assistant were both smiling. She threw her arms around me and said, ‘You’re OK.’” Stephen marveled at his new scan. The yellow specks were completely gone. Dr. Byun declared Stephen to be cancer free and he has remained so for five years.
Stephen’s story with the hospital wasn’t over yet. A few years later, he was getting an EKG, when the technicians told him to lie completely still. Brian Kolski, M.D., interventional cardiologist and vascular specialist, told an alarmed Stephen that he was checking him into the hospital immediately. Dr. Kolski and cardiologist Kelly Tucker, M.D. performed emergency surgery to install a pacemaker that prevented a catastrophic heart attack or stroke had it gone untreated even a few hours longer. Once again, Stephen’s life was saved.
“I am very thankful to the hospital, the doctors and the great staff who saved my life—twice,” says Stephen. “This hospital is a unique asset in this community. When you have a medical issue, you want to be here at Providence St. Joseph where they are constantly advancing science through clinical trials, keeping them on the leading edge of medicine.”
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