Small-Town Cancer Team, Big Success

Lung Cancer Heroes®CURE® Lung Cancer Heroes® 2020 Essay Book
Volume 1

An oncologist writes about a local cancer care leader who developed an impressive multidisciplinary cancer team.

I am a medical oncologist who has worked on the central coast of California for the past 20 years. I am proud to say that, despite our location in a small community equidistant from San Francisco and Los Angeles, we have developed an oncology program that I feel rivals that of any tertiary care center in the world. I credit our success largely to the unabated efforts of Dr. Edwin Hayashi, a surgeon and local cancer care leader who has developed our state-of-the-art multidisciplinary cancer team.

Dr. Tom Spillane (left) and Dr. Edwin Hayashi (right)

Dr. Tom Spillane (left) and Dr. Edwin Hayashi (right). Photo provided by Spillane.

Through his tireless efforts, Edwin has developed accredited cancer programs at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, French Hospital Medical Center and Arroyo Grande Community Hospital. Given that this is a rural area with a number of small hospitals, this was no easy task, requiring countless of hours coordinating with the American College of Surgeons. Currently, we have well-established accredited programs that, as Dr. Hayashi would say, ensure that all of our patients in San Luis Obispo County have access to the same care that would be available at any large academic cancer center.

Dr. Edwin Hayashi is the committee chair and chair of surgery for all the cancer programs. He is also the chair and leader of our multidisciplinary tumor board. Edwin and his brother, Dr. Howard Hayashi, perform the majority of lung cancer surgeries here on the central coast of California, ensuring the availability and access to all current surgical expertise and technology. The brothers frequently volunteer and teach surgical technique around the world.

So why, one might ask, would two of the world’s best surgeons be found in a small community such as ours? Well, they both are proud members of a pioneering agricultural family that migrated here from Japan in the early 1900s. Enduring internment camps during World War II, these dedicated early American farmers ingrained a passion for hard work and a faithful commitment to family. Both Edwin and Howard, at an early age, were up before the sun, in the fields, working for hours before going to school. Perhaps the dedication, care and perseverance required to grow a strawberry may be the best training a surgeon could have.

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