Louisville man finds sophisticated and successful cancer care close to home

“I have received superior care right here at Norton Healthcare and in the comfort of my hometown with my family, friends and loved ones by my side.”

On the morning of March 12, 2019, I was still in a surgical gown and groggy after a colonoscopy when gastroenterologist William B. Evans, III, M.D., walked into the recovery room to deliver news I didn’t quite know what to do with.

I still remember his words: “The good news is that I didn’t see any signs of cancer. No polyps or anything like that. But I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, and I don’t know what I’ve just seen. I took a couple of biopsies.”

I left the surgical center with some pictures and a lot of questions. 

It took doctors just 10 days to determine this 50-year-old man had both lymphoma and leukemia — on top of my already diagnosed multiple sclerosis (MS). 

These days, we sometimes hear how “broken” the American health care system is. But the truth is that you have scores of victories at Norton Healthcare every day. I know because I’m one of them. And I didn’t have to leave Kentucky to receive this superior care.

My story began in January 2017 when I entered Norton Brownsboro Hospital’s emergency department with “stroke-like” symptoms. Through testing and the expertise of your physicians, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and have been a patient of Norton Neuroscience Institute neurologist Geeta A. Ganesh, M.D., MPH, ever since. 

The next two years were challenging as I worked to recover from that episode. Unbeknownst to us all, a more sinister condition was developing inside my body. And by early 2019, I was nearly incapacitated with gastrointestinal problems that I was convinced were rare symptoms of MS. Only through Dr. Ganesh’s advice and care was I put on a path to ultimate healing.

Dr. Evans, who is now with Norton Gastroenterology Consultants of Louisville, referred me to Terence Hadley, M.D., who has since retired as an oncologist from Norton Cancer Institute. He diagnosed me with small B-cell lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. While both of these diagnoses are sadly quite common, my particular case was anything but that. Dr. Hadley informed us of the rarity of my case and that it was a presentation he had never encountered in his career. He was able to find four documented similar cases. Sadly, none of those four had survived. 

Only through his intelligence, compassion, curiosity, persistence and humility am I here today to share this remarkable story. My case was presented to the tumor board. The consensus was that demographically I was a candidate for the standard treatment. But Dr. Hadley thoroughly understood my prognosis. He did not believe I would survive the rigors of that treatment. Though my condition was “unstageable,” and a suitable course of treatment was not immediately apparent, he was determined to find the best path forward. My family and I had full faith in his ability, but the following six weeks were torturous. Mentally and psychologically, I was preparing to die. I am one of the most optimistic people you might encounter. I had even told Dr. Hadley that I would not enter treatment if the treatment itself would kill me.

At his retirement, Dr. Hadley referred me to Khuda D. Khan, M.D., a hematologist and medical oncologist with Norton Cancer Institute. Dr. Khan knew the complicated nature of my case, and it demanded his expertise and care. It was a seamless transition. I am proud to share with you that I am in remission today. 

So many patients seek the expertise of nationally renowned hospitals and centers of excellence, and rightfully so. But I have received superior care right here at Norton Healthcare and in the comfort of my hometown with my family, friends and loved ones by my side. At every juncture, I have been treated as a person with dignity and as an equal partner in discerning the best path. 

We often hear stories of miracles in this world, but I truly believe the care, the science and the doctors and staff that have provided me with such excellent care are miracles in and of themselves. My hope is that my story will stand as a testament to the world-class care that Norton Healthcare provides.

Before my retirement, I spent my career working in higher education and nonprofit fundraising. In that time, I learned that organizations that can most clearly and concisely tell the stories of how their mission is making a difference in this world are the most successful and effective. I am a firm believer in a principle that guided the late Ed Sabol, founder of NFL Films: “Tell me a fact, and I will learn … tell me a truth and I will believe, tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.”

My hope is that my miraculous story will provide hope, knowledge, and awareness for other patients and for Norton Healthcare.Mike Goetz, who works in collegiate athletics, lives in Louisville.

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