While on vacation in Lake Tahoe in September 2008, Ron Hibbard was enjoying his last sip of beer when it foamed up in his esophagus. Acid reflux and chest pain quickly followed. When his doctor, Michael Benoit, MD, examined him upon his return home, he wasted no time in referring him to gastroenterologist Pankaj Sharma, MD, in Silverdale who found his esophagus blocked by a tumor.
“If I hadn’t gone in when I did, I would have suffocated,” says Ron. He met with his surgeons—Greg Fleischhauer, MD, and John Arthur, MD—and was told to put his affairs in order. They could not give him much hope, but would do everything possible to save his life.
They were a success. Following his surgeries to remove his stomach and a portion of his esophagus, Ron spent a month recovering at Harrison Medical Center, going home just once, at which time an incident with a piece of frozen pizza sent him back to Harrison and a liquid diet. His family was grateful that his hospital stay was so close to home. Chemotherapy followed, as well as radiation at Harrison Radiation Oncology. While the treatments weren’t painful, they were exhausting, and he was thankful for such excellent care, close by and the support of his wife Janet, family, friends, and his church—not to mention the staff he saw every day. “Dr. Springate’s team—and Dr. Johnson’s, too—was so excellent. I can’t say enough about how they took care of me.”
Ron’s positive experience at Harrison led him to become a volunteer at the hospital’s Bremerton campus, where he escorts patients and visitors, delivers flowers, and calls patients once they’re discharged. “Ron is a wonderful help to us,” says Volunteer Resources assistant, Pamela Deaton. “His experience as a former patient, and cancer survivor, makes him well-suited to for the job he does when volunteering. We are very fortunate to have him as part of our team!”Putting cancer behind him, Ron looks forward to traveling and spending time with Janet, his three children, and four grandchildren, as well as working around the house and playing the drums. The entire family also plans to celebrate Ron’s five years of being cancer free with a Caribbean cruise. Ah, life without cancer!