When Judith Cohen was diagnosed with stage IIIb colon cancer, she was living in Costa Rica. For the past 40 years, the 61-year-old had been splitting her time between the Spanish speaking country and the United States, but with an insurance policy that is accepted anywhere she goes, she had relied primarily on the Costa Rican health care system for all of her care.
After undergoing the initial tests and treatment at her Costa Rican based doctor’s office, it became apparent that Judith was going to require treatment that they could not adequately provide. With the help of her family, she began researching clinics in the United States.
“They didn’t have the chemo in Costa Rica that I needed,” Judith recalls. “My doctor told me if I came to the States that my chances of survival went up 25%. So we started looking all over the U.S.”
After scouring the internet and going through referrals, Judith and her family were able to narrow their nationwide search down to a couple of states and several different clinics, including Sierra Nevada Cancer Center. It was after Judith’s friend made the initial contact with Dr. Perez at SNCC that the decision was made.
“My friend called me and said she was really impressed,” Judith says of her friend’s research and meet-and-greet with Dr. Perez. “She said, ‘You won’t believe this, I’ve met him and he is absolutely fantastic.’”
Along with having the compassionate approach to treatment that Judith was looking for, as well the necessary type of chemotherapy she required, it was Dr. Perez’s flexibility and accessibility to patients that sealed the deal.
“A lot of doctors won’t accept tests performed by other doctors,” Judith says. “But it was really important that I didn’t take months and months taking the tests again—the fact that Dr. Perez saw me was absolutely marvelous.”
Two years since her diagnosis, Judith is still going strong and living her life. She makes the commute to see Dr. Perez about every three months.
“Dr. Perez is a very caring person as is the whole staff at Sierra Nevada Cancer Center,” Judith says. “It’s very important that you feel like you’re a life, not a dollar sign.”