Nestor Geronimo

Since moving to Ojai 17 years ago, Nestor Geronimo, 47, has made a point of returning to Mexico every Christmas to spend time with his nine siblings. Their mother passed away of cervical cancer in 1977, and they lost their father to lung cancer in 1981. "My siblings and I were always close, but after our parents died we were even closer," he says. "We have a great time together, and we can talk about anything."

Sometimes, their conversation was about the high risk of cancer that ran in the family, and when Nestor's older sister Nidia, a physician, recommended that he have a PSA test every year starting at age 40, he took her advice.

Everything was normal until last January, when his primary care physician told him that his PSA level was alarmingly high. A second test two months later was significantly higher, and Nestor was referred to urologist Dr. Marc Beaghler. When Beaghler performed a biopsy, the results came back positive for prostate cancer.

Even with his family history, "It was a shock," Nestor says. Married for 15 years, and the father of three young daughters, Nestor thought a lot about the future. "It was hard for me not to think about my children, and my wife, and all the plans we had for the future that might not happen," he says.

The cancer had not metastasized, and Nestor could have waited, but Dr. Beaghler recommended robotic surgery to remove the prostate. Though he felt fine, "I was ready to do what I had to do," he says. After talking it over with his wife and siblings—one of whom had had robotic surgery for another condition—Nestor chose to go ahead. "The fact that it was less invasive, and that the recovery time was quicker really helped me make the decision," he says.

Last May, his wife, his children, and several of his siblings and nephews went with him to the hospital as he was admitted for surgery. "Before I went it was all laughter and jokes with my family," he says, "so I didn't really feel I was going for an operation."

The procedure went flawlessly. "Afterward I was kind of sleepy but I don't think I felt any pain at all," he says. He was released from the hospital after two days, and though he was provided with pain medication, he didn't need it.

Advised to remain active, and though he had a catheter for the first week, he walked for thirty minutes mornings and evenings. "After a week, I increased it to 40 minutes," he says, "then to an hour after two weeks."

Now, cancer free and completely recovered, he looks forward to visiting with his siblings next Christmas. Though the trip is usually two to three weeks, this year is different. "We have plans to go for a month and a half," he says, "and make up for lost time."

Carl Bailey

Pain-free isn't how most people would describe their surgery.

Yet, that's exactly how Carl Bailey said he felt after a January procedure at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura to have part of his left kidney removed.

"I had zero pain," said the 67-year-old Oxnard resident following the removal of a cancerous growth on his kidney. "I didn't take one pain pill."

Bailey's pain-free recovery was due in large part to the state-of-the-art da Vinci surgical robot which Dr. Seyed Khoddami used to perform the surgery.

Bailey said his urologist, Dr. Max Stearns, recommended Khoddami to do the surgery because the da Vinci system would diminish pain, reduce recovery time and minimize trauma to his body.

"The pain was less and the recovery time was a lot faster," said the retired federal worker. "I'm cancer-free as of now. I have my check ups, but I feel okay," Bailey said.

Would he recommend the da Vinci system to someone else faced with a similar surgery?

"Absolutely," he said without hesitation. "Dr. Khoddami is the best."

Lavonda Clarke

Lavonda Clarke, a Pt. Hueneme mother of three, said she was worried about the scars surgery can often cause.

Clarke said, however, she only had tiny incision scars following her June surgery at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura to repair the tubes that connect her bladder to her kidney.

"I was very pleased because I didn't want scars," said the wife of a Navy sailor.

Clarke's minimal scarring is one of the many benefits of the da Vinci surgery system that Dr. Seyed Khoddami used for the surgery.

Clarke said she was recommended to Khoddami by Laura Gandy, a nurse practitioner at Ventura County Naval Base.

"I listened to Dr. Khoddami about da Vinci, and I was very confident in what he had to say," Clarke said.

Having been through two previous surgeries, Clarke said the procedure done by Khoddami using the da Vinci system was the least invasive she's ever experienced.

"I had less healing time following the surgery," Clarke said. "I would recommend da Vinci to anyone else."

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