When your wife has breast cancer, everything changes. Even if you’re one of the country’s foremost breast care surgeons.
About two years ago, Dr. John G. West’s wife Jan learned she had a lump in her breast. West had recently written Prevent, Survive, Thrive: Every Woman’s Guide to Optimal Breast Care after a patient had asked him, “What would you do if I was your wife?”
The irony of the timing of Jan’s diagnosis and the book’s release did not escape John or Jan West. Following a lumpectomy and whole-breast radiation, Jan is thankfully doing fine now.
Dr. West, director of surgery at Breastlink in Orange County with over 40 years of experience, has performed over 20,000 breast surgeries. He’s authored three books and 20 peer-reviewed articles. Cofounder of the breast cancer detection outreach Be Aware Foundation, he has been named a Best Doctor in America and recognized as one of the “Best Doctors in Orange County.”
And he has a history of solving problems that result in unnecessary deaths.
For example, during his surgical training in San Francisco, West was accustomed to seeing serious trauma victims transported to the area’s single trauma center to be treated by an in-house team of experts. But when he moved to Orange County, he saw a young boy die needlessly after a car accident. So he conducted a groundbreaking study comparing death rates of trauma victims in the two different locations. West’s study inspired the establishment of the first county-wide trauma center system in the U.S.
Not one to rest for long, West became disturbed with the plight of breast cancer sufferers. Detection was often late, care was slow and fragmented, and surgery was often needlessly aggressive. With other like-minded colleagues, West pioneered the idea of a same-day breast care center where radiologists, breast surgeons, breast oncologists, and plastic surgeons could work together far more effectively as a team.