Patient Testimonials

My name is Bruce Halgren, I was a patient of yours at UCSD from Nov. 1999 until Sept 2000. I retired in March 1999 as a Captain from the La Mesa Fire Department where I worked with Dr. Karen Van Hoesen’s husband. When I was told I had a large tumor in my rectum on the Friday before Thanksgiving I contacted Karen to get a recommendation for a Colorectal surgeon.

Dr. R.A. Gamagami,

My name is Bruce Halgren, I was a patient of yours at UCSD from Nov. 1999 until Sept 2000. I retired in March 1999 as a Captain from the La Mesa Fire Department where I worked with Dr. Karen Van Hoesen’s husband. When I was told I had a large tumor in my rectum on the Friday before Thanksgiving I contacted Karen to get a recommendation for a Colorectal surgeon. Karen told me you were the #1 Colorectal surgeon at UCSD and she gave me your office phone number. I contacted your office Friday afternoon and I was given an appointment to see you at 8am Monday Morning. I believe that my 8am appointment was because Karen was your colleague as your normal office hours weren’t until 9am. When you requested an ultrasound you couldn’t get one for a month and you wanted it ASAP. You asked for a personal favor from the ultrasound Department head and he did the ultrasound on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I had a T3N1 5cm tumor in my rectum and Dr. Barbara Parker gave me a 30% chance of survival for 3 to 5 years. I want to let you know it is now 16 years later with no signs of cancer. You wanted to shrink the tumor to be able to reconstruct my rectum with my colon. I was taking about $250 a month in herbs to build my immune system while my medical team decided to give me 5 weeks of chemotherapy with a pick line 7/24 and radiation 5 days a week to shrink the tumor. With the herbs I went the 5 weeks without any change in my blood count. I recall asking how much you expected to shrink the tumor. You told me you did know how much but the more the better because the tumor was large and to close to my anus to reconstruct my rectum. I also recall you telling me that after the surgery you would send everything to pathology and they would find cancer cells. When I woke up after surgery and you walked in my room the first thing I asked you was how much did the tumor shrink? Your answer was “what tumor it was gone and only scare tissue remained”. You also told me that you sent everything to pathology three times and they did not find one cancer cell.

I want to thank you, the medical team and my herb lady for 15 years of a healthy life. My wife and I have been able to visit much of the United States. We have been able to welcome in to this world and enjoy 10 additional grand kids. Unfortunately we also had to lay a grandson to rest. I still take herb supplements every day to keep my immune system working at its peak performance. At 70 years old I take no medications and I am looking forward to at least another 15 years.

I had a colonoscopy 5 years ago that was clean. I told the Doctor I had my rectum removed at UCSD and that you reconstructed my rectum with my colon. After the colonoscopy the Doctor told me that in his 27 years of practice I was the first patient that he had ever seen that had a rectum reconstructed with the colon. He said that they are doing something at UCSD that he had never seen before.

I am having a colonoscopy on February 1st and the Doctor told me that I am blessed not to be on an ostomy bag for the rest of my life. I agree as I was on the ostomy bag for only 3 months and I would not be as happy with my life on the bag. I also feel I was blessed to have you as my surgeon. If you do not hear from me then the latest colonoscopy was also clean.

I know that so often you treat someone like me and never know if your efforts were successful. I thank you for being a big part of my success in beating cancer for the second time. I had prostate cancer 5 years earlier and had it removed as well.

If you are back in the San Diego area and have a free afternoon I would love to take you to lunch and personally thank you for the rest of my live. I now live in Riverside County but would drive down for lunch.

Bruce Halgren

951-304-3172

b_b_halgren@sbcglobal.net