From NYC to the ACI:Lung Cancer Survivor Finds Exceptional Care in an Unexpected Place
Judah (Jud) Kaplan spent his career working on the floor of the American Stock Exchange in New York City. It was an immensely stressful, high-pressure job. During that time, he smoked three to four packs of cigarettes a day.
In 1983, his lifestyle caught up with him and he had a heart attack. It was a wake-up call for Kaplan. He and his wife, Judie, realized that if they wanted to live a long life together, they needed to take better care of themselves. Kaplan quit smoking and the couple committed to practicing preventive medicine, eating a healthy diet, and living well. They also developed a great respect for the high-quality doctors and healthcare that came with living in New York City.
In 2003, the Kaplans moved from New York to Savannah to be closer to their daughter. But they were concerned about the type of medical care they would find in coastal Georgia.
“We were reluctant to move because we really liked our doctors in New York and we were very appreciative of the care they provided,” said Kaplan.
However, Kaplan says he’s been very impressed with the healthcare he’s received in Savannah. Among many able physicians, he says Mark Murphy, M.D., Jerry Cohn Jr., M.D., and Aaron Pederson, M.D., have provided extraordinary care. Having easy access to quality medical care became especially important in the summer of 2015, when Kaplan developed a bad case of influenza.
“Because it was summer, the flu shots had not come out yet. I was sick for five or six weeks. I just couldn’t get rid of it,” said Kaplan.
His internist, Tim Daugherty, M.D., did a chest X-ray and discovered more than the flu. There was a small spot, approximately 2 to 3 centimeters in size, on Kaplan’s right lung. He sent Kaplan to Stephen Morris, M.D., a pulmonary disease specialist. After more tests, Kaplan learned that the spot was lung cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the second most common cancer (not including skin cancers) diagnosed in men in the U.S. – second only to prostate cancer. And the prognosis is not always good. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined.
At this point, Kaplan consulted with Richard Roth, M.D., Samuel Torres, M.D., Kenneth Hardigan, M.D., and oncologist George Negrea, M.D.
“These four brilliant physicians agreed that Dr. Marc Bailey should perform my surgery,” said Kaplan.
Brian Marcus Bailey, M.D., is a thoracic surgical oncologist at the Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute (ACI) at Memorial University Medical Center. Bailey grew up in Savannah and attended medical school in Virginia. He completed a fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. He began working in Springfield, Missouri, and quickly established himself as a leading thoracic robotic surgeon in the country. In 2015, he returned to Savannah and joined ACI – Surgical Associates. Kaplan felt he was in good hands with Bailey.
On December 30, 2015, Bailey used the da Vinci Si robotic surgery system to make four small incisions in Kaplan’s chest and remove the tumor from his lung. After surgery, Kaplan was moved to a post-surgery stepdown unit at Memorial University Medical Center.
“It was the first time in almost 60 years that I spent New Year’s Eve away from my wife,” said Kaplan. They’ve been married for 58 years. It was difficult, but Kaplan says the care he received was superb.
“Dr. Bailey told me that he was determined to make the fifth floor of Memorial the best critical care and stepdown facility possible, and I can attest to the fact that he has succeeded,” said Kaplan. “The nurses were caring and knowledgeable. They let you know that they are there to serve your personal interests above anything else.”
Surgical pathology showed that Bailey had successfully removed all of the cancer and Kaplan would not require any additional treatment. The 81-year-old is making a full recovery. He exercises several times a week and he and Judie continue to enjoy their senior years. Kaplan appreciates that his Savannah doctors have gone to extraordinary measures to help him preserve his health. He feels the community is fortunate to have such high-level services close to home.