Stan Von Hofe, M.D. // husband to Barbara & father to Johanna (an Ob/Gyn) // teacher @ University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville (“I love it,” he says) // endocrinologist (retired from private practice) // runner & active member of The Life Center // horseback rider // Clemson Athletics fan // left us summer of 2018 from gastric cancer diagnosed Stage 3B in ‘07)

 “Being a survivor is basically about wanting to stay alive & not let cancer define who you are as a person. Many people deal with adversity. You just keep plugging.

“I was diagnosed with stomach (gastric) cancer in ‘07, treated with chemo & radiation therapy Oct. ‘07 to April ‘08, & then had surgery to remove my stomach (gastrectomy) in May ‘08. My mother also died from ovarian cancer the year Igraduated from college.

“I did well from a cancer standpoint until April this year, when I had a recurrence (metastasis) to my brain. This presented as sudden leg weakness & inability to walk; & subsequently, I had surgery to remove the tumor in my brain, followed by radiation therapy. Currently I’m doing well, & I’m back to my hobbies of working out at The Life Center, running & horseback riding.

“Regarding treatment decisions, the fact I’m a doctor has played a major part in my treatment. I visited Duke, M.D. Anderson in Houston, & I had phone or email consults with friends at Mayo, Harvard & Vanderbilt. After gathering all data, I decided my best treatment options were here in Greenville. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of the patient being his own advocate. It’s easy if you’re a physician, but not so much if you’re not. Educate yourself, & ask questions. Because my cancer was Stage 3B at diagnosis, surgeons were reluctant to operate on me; only Dr. [Steven] Trocha here in Greenville was willing to ‘go for it.’

“I’ve always been the spouse responsible for finances. My wife, Barbara, is the educator, intellectual & moral anchor to the family — & she found the undertaking of such duties to be extremely stressful. While my recent recurrence portends an equivocal prognosis, I don’t fear death so much as worry about how such an event would affect my wife. Fortunately, Johanna (my doctor daughter & joy of my life) understands my medical issues, & is thus better prepared to deal with whatever comes.

“My advice is to take care of yourself starting in high school & college. I’ve been a runner since 1967, & I’m convinced I had as good an outcome as I have had because I was in good physical shape & able to tolerate chemo & radiation therapy. In other words: be prepared. Also, try to be as physically active as tolerable while undergoing therapy.

“I’m very tuned in to friends & patients who have cancer, & have tried to support several of them on a one-on-one basis by sharing my experience & encouragement. This experience has made me a better doctor.”

 Photo by Mark Kirby