By Agi Hirshberg
As the founder of the Foundation, the best part of the LA Cancer Challenge is meeting the families who have joined our fight, and who affirm my commitment to eradicating this disease. One such family that I connected with at this years’ event included Suzie Monotosi Greenbaum, Team Captain of “Run for Pedro”, and her dad, 9 year survivor Pedro Motonishi.
“Run for Pedro” was a familiar team in our offices. Suzie participated in her first LA Cancer Challenge (LACC) back in 2005, in order to support her dad who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2001. She became a team captain as a way to involve family and friends, and has been a part of every LACC since then. At the LACC last October I invited Pedro and Suzie to visit the Hirshberg Laboratories on the UCLA campus.
The following month I met Pedro and Suzie on the UCLA campus to spend a few hours visiting our labs. Usually when I take guests on lab tours, it is the doctors who do all the talking, while the patients or families listen. This visit was different. This time, it was the doctors who were listening, fascinated by Pedro’s story.
He told us his ancestors migrated from China to Peru, and eventually ended up in Southern California. For treatment, he has received different chemotherapy regimens over the years, including Gemzar/Xeloda, Iressa and Gemzar/Cicsplatin and has also undergone radiation. Along with the chemotherapy and Chinese Herbal Medicine, Pedro also does electrical acupuncture. He attributes most of his 9-year survival to a regimen of Chinese Herbs obtained from a physician in Los Angeles. All of this while still continuing to play soccer and enjoy a game of golf every now and then. A picture of good health, Pedro was anxious to complete the tour to return home in time for his soccer league game!
While Pedro’s survival rate remains the exception and not the standard, his story is an inspirational one. In addition to fighting the disease himself, he also offers guidance to others who are interested learning more about his combination of traditional and non-traditional therapies. Pedro’s story has shown that there are ways to manage this disease and live fulfilling lives well beyond the typically tragic post-diagnosis life expectancy. Our fight is to make Pedro’s story the standard and not the exception.
Pedro’s story is an inspirational one. In addition to fighting the disease himself, he offered guidance to others and shared his story. The Motonishi family created the LA Cancer Challenge team “Run for Pedro” to raise money for research and to come together as a family and show their commitment to never give up!