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HM_Mission Hospital_Summer21_final

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Health Matters: Providence Mission Hospital | 11 A s a first responder and Orange County sheriff, 47-year-old Larry Costa was a familiar face in the emergency rooms at Providence Mission Hospital Mission Viejo and Laguna Beach. "Over the years I've gotten to know the doctors and nurses by name and saw how they really cared for their patients," Costa says. "The other police officers and I would joke that if something ever happened to us, we wanted to be taken straight to Providence Mission." Then that "something" happened. In October 2020, Costa, who lives in Dana Point with his fiancée, Tracy, went to the Laguna Beach emergency room with severe gastrointestinal symptoms. A few days later, Matthew T. Brady, MD, medical director of colon and rectal surgery, removed a cancerous tumor from Costa's colon. "Dr. Brady was amazing," Costa says. "So was Dr. Sanober Syed, the emergency doctor that night; my oncologist, Dr. John Hu; my nurse navigator, Nancy Christensen; the chemo nurses Julie and Diane—pretty much everyone I encountered. I received the same level of care I'd seen when I'd been there as an officer." At Providence Mission Hospital, our goal is to provide each cancer patient with care that meets national criteria for best practices and also demonstrates the compassion and sensitivity that has become our hallmark. Dr. Brady explains that cancer treatment is a team effort. "We have a team of experts who are passionate about providing colon and rectal cancer care—surgeons, the gastroenterology team, pathologists, medical oncologists and radiologists, as well as great nurses who provide attentive care. We also have excellent nurse navigators working at the Leonard Cancer Institute to help guide you through treatment plans and ancillary services like nutritionists and dietitians." Costa's symptoms began in August 2020, when he was experiencing frequent constipation and abdominal pain. Tracy noticed her fiancé was losing his appetite—and losing weight. "I was using the restroom for a longer time than usual," he says. "The only things that would make the pain go away were hot compresses or sitting in a tub of hot water." Although Costa toughed out his symptoms for two months, it wasn't until he began painfully vomiting that he and Tracy, who was four months pregnant at the time, went to the Laguna Beach emergency room. He was then transferred to Mission Viejo, where gastroenterologist Navjyot Gujral, MD, performed an endoscopy and colonoscopy that confirmed Costa had colon cancer. He contacted Dr. Brady. "Dr. Brady did a great job explaining everything that was going on before and after my surgery," says Costa. "Luckily, the cancer had not metastasized to my liver, but eleven of my lymph nodes had cancer." Costa received chemotherapy every two weeks at the Leonard Cancer Institute, with his last treatment at the end of April. "Everything had gone so fast in the hospital that I never had a chance to digest that I had cancer until I had symptoms from the chemo," says Costa. "The doctors told me that if I had chemo, there was a decreased chance that my cancer would come back, and with our baby on the way, there was no way I was going to risk the cancer coming back." Costa's daughter, Ruby May, was born on February 25. "It's awesome to think of all the stuff we went through and now to have such an amazing little girl. She makes us beyond happy," he says. Dr. Brady emphasizes the importance of seeking treatment for any changes in bowel habits. "If symptoms are persistent, you need to be evaluated by a physician. Colon cancer is the third-most-common cancer diagnosis in the country. And although it is still more rare, colon cancer rates are rising in younger people," he says. The outcome could have been worse if Costa had delayed seeking care, Dr. Brady says. "His cancer was nearly obstructing the colon. Without intervention, these cancers can grow to completely block the colon and the patient can experience a perforation that they can become quite sick from." "The experience was a real eye-opener," says Costa. "I tell all the guys I work with to get checked out if you have any problems. Don't think you can fight through it. Listen to your body." Join gastroenterologist Wanjun Simon Bae, MD, in a free webinar titled "Do I Really Need a Colonoscopy?" on Aug. 10. To sign up, go to Providence. org/MissionClasses. Listen to Your Body An Orange County sheriff undergoes treatment for colon cancer, then welcomes a baby daughter to the world.

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