Advocacy Spotlight

Grateful to be Giving Back

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Jesus Esquivel, MD, FACS, is a surgical oncologist and Medical Director, Interna­tional Oncology Initiatives, and National Director for HIPEC Research for Cancer Treatment Centers of America®. Since 2007 Dr. Esquivel has been volunteer­ing his time annually to travel to Mexico to educate the oncology community on cytoreductive surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC)— a highly concentrated, heated chemother­apy treatment that is delivered directly to the abdomen during surgery—and to pro­vide the treatment to patients who would otherwise not have access to that therapy.

What initially inspired your deci­sion to travel to Mexico to share your expertise and treat patients?

My mentor, Dr. Paul Sugarbaker, had an extra machine to deliver HIPEC, and he told me that he would like to donate it to Mexico. I discussed this with Dr. Rolando Garcia-Matus, a surgical oncologist inter­ested in HIPEC who practices at a regional hospital in Oaxaca, Mexico. In December 2007, Dr. Garcia-Matus scheduled two HIPEC cases for my first visit, and that is how the program was born. Both of the pa­tients I treated on my initial visit are doing well today.

Can you describe a “typical” excur­sion and what you might  experience?

Each year at the con­clusion of the work­shop, we choose the next location. Ideally, we travel to a different place every year; how­ever, there are limited hospitals in Mexico that can sustain perito­neal surface malignan­cy and HIPEC pro­grams. Consequently, we have gone twice to Oaxaca, and next year will be again in Guadalajara. We typi­cally arrive in Mexico on a Wednesday, do surgery on Thursday, give talks on Friday and fly back on Saturday. Our hosts typi­cally also try to include a social program on Friday night so that we learn about the town that we are visiting.

What inspires you in your work with patients and providers in Mexico?

Giving back is contagious. Our trips to Mexico have been met with great en­thusiasm, passion and dedication from Mexican surgical oncologists who are in­terested in developing HIPEC programs. So far we have helped create five HIPEC programs that provide an excellent service to their communities.

How is your work in Mexico an extension of your overall commitment to patients and your passion for what you do?

In my opinion, even more important than the treatment we are providing is the op­portunity to teach and motivate other phy­sicians to take on this difficult problem of peritoneal surface malignancies. Life and careers are short; each of us can do only so many operations, and we have to train young surgeons so that they can teach fu­ture generations in due time—ideally pro­viding ever-better care and posing newer questions as our understanding of this dis­ease process improves.