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|John P. Stein, M.D.|
The Faith in Our Lives - Dr. John Stein's cancer ministry
July 13, 2007
As a urologic oncologist with a specialty in bladder reconstruction, Dr. John Stein has to tell people one of the hardest things they may ever hear - "You have cancer."
Some can be cured through surgery and aggressive treatment. Many go on to live quality lives with neo-bladders, a prosthetic bladder that performs the same functions as a healthy bladder and does away with an external bag. For others the diagnosis of cancer is a death sentence.
But for all of his patients, the diagnosis is a horrendous
"Being told you have a cancer is a huge life-changing
event," reports Dr. Stein, sitting in his cramped seventh-story office in
the urology department of the USC/
After the diagnosis, the real battle begins, according to
Dr. Stein. As a "very competitive guy," who thrived in school sports
and volunteers as a coach at a basketball camp, he'll do whatever it takes to
win the war against cancer. That same steadfast determination extends to his
own research efforts on bladder cancer as well as to teaching
"This is a fight, and I enjoy that," he says.
"I'll do whatever I can to help you."
When asked if the deadly struggle wears him down, he half-shrugs and only notes that some days are longer than others. But there are joys, too, like meeting and helping people - especially the elderly - along their life journey.
He gravitates toward older people because he's curious about who's been important in their lives and what were the keys to their success. Often he finds himself asking senior citizens, "What did you do to make you so happy and to live so long?"
He finds their stories fascinating, believing wisdom comes with age and not necessarily an M.D. or Ph.D. degree. He's had some amazing conversations with patients with number tattoos on their forearms from being in World War II-era Nazi concentration camps.
But Dr. Stein readily admits he often loses the fight against cancer.
He talks about the "nicest man you'd ever meet"- a
teacher and coach at a local Catholic high school who was diagnosed with severe
prostate cancer. During the two years the educator was his patient, he never
once complained or asked "Why me?" But after going through intense
therapy, he still died, leaving a "beautiful" family with an
incredibly strong mom at the helm.
John Stein was always around medicine, growing up in
"I actually thought that being a doctor was a way that I could probably give back more," he recalls. "I think I picked oncology primarily because of the unique challenges as far as trying to take care of patients. I was primarily fascinated with reconstruction and bladder cancer. So that's what kind of pushed me towards this."The 44-year-old physician, in fact, was instrumental in developing a female version of the neo-bladder in the early 1990s.
That and other challenges have been met with a bedrock faith.
"It helps with patients; it helps with family; and it helps me," Dr. Stein explains. "It provides, hopefully, guidance and balance. This is my ministry. When you help people, you can help them physically, you can help them mentally and maybe there's a spiritual component, too.
"If I can touch them that way, too, maybe I do help them a little bit in terms of global [holistic] healthcare," he adds. "This is how I conduct my ministry."
Used with permission; originally published:
Dr. John P. Stein, a professor at the USC Keck School of Medicine and
an internationally known specialist in urologic cancers and bladder
reconstruction, died Friday at a hospital in Naples, Fla. He was 45.
Clinical and scientific research in urologic oncology and various forms of urinary diversion and bladder reconstruction, including the development of new and improved surgical techniques.
Surgical Treatment of Urologic Cancers: Bladder, Kidney, Prostate, &
Loyola University-Stritch, MD, 1989
LAC+USC Medical Center , 1989 - 1990
Medical Center: General Surgery, 1990 - 1991
USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center: Urologic Oncology, 1995 - 1997
American Board of Urology, 1999
American Urologic Association
Stein, J. P.,
Stenzl, A., Esrig, D., Freeman, J. A., Boyd, S. D., Lieskovsky, G., Cote, R.,
Bennett, C., Colleselli, K., Draxl, H., Janetschek, G., Poisel, S., Bartsch, G.
and Skinner, D. G.: Lower urinary tract reconstruction following cystectomy in
women using the Kock ileal reservoir with bilateral ureteroileal urethrostomy:
initial clinical experience. J. Urol., 152: 1404-1408, 1994.
|Last Updated ( Monday, 21 April 2008 )|