An orthopedic surgeon for over 40 years, Larry Geuss Jr., MD, was quick to realize something was wrong when he found himself struggling to swallow food one Christmas Eve. He immediately scheduled an appointment with a gastroenterologist, where a gastroscopy revealed that he had esophageal cancer. Two days later, in January 2020, Larry went to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for treatment.
“I had a lot of choices, but I chose to go to Dana-Farber because I have the most trust in them,” he says. “The level of caring is unmatched, and the technology really makes it such a seamless experience.”
Over the next several months, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Larry found himself going through radiation, chemotherapy, and, ultimately, esophagectomy surgery at a nearly empty Dana-Farber. Larry’s care team was led by Jeffrey Meyerhardt, MD, MPH, FASCO, chief clinical research officer and the Douglas Gray Woodruff Chair in Colorectal Cancer Research at Dana-Farber; Steven Mentzer, MD; and Neil Martin, MD, MPH.
As a surgeon, Larry meticulously studied and prepared ahead of every operation he conducted throughout his career. This time, as a patient, Larry opted to skip the research, put his trust in his care team, and focus on his recovery.
“I tell my own patients that when you have a surgery like this, it knocks you right off your feet,” he says. “You’re not going to feel well, you’re going to feel depressed and tired. I encourage them to get up and move, and that’s what I tried to do myself—just get up and move for a few minutes at a time. Read happy books, watch happy movies, talk to friends. Otherwise, it’s easy to slide into a depression.”
Thanks to his treatment at Dana-Farber, Larry has been cancer-free for three years. His recovery was long, and he’s had to adapt to new ways of eating, swallowing, and sleeping. With these adjustments, including eating earlier, avoiding certain foods, and sleeping in an elevated position, Larry feels he can live a normal life.
“You learn what your body needs to do to survive, and you adapt,” he says, noting he is still able to fully indulge in his favorite hobbies, including walking, reading, golf, and archery.
While he’s been retired from surgery for three years, Larry continues to see patients at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. Larry and his wife of 25 years, Pam Lenehan—who were married following a blind date orchestrated by their daughters, who were high school classmates—are also enjoying spending time with their blended family, including four grown children and five grandchildren.
Larry and Pam are extremely grateful to Dana-Farber for helping to save Larry’s life, especially at a time when many other cancer patients were unable to receive care.
“In many parts of the country, people weren’t able to get cancer treatment during COVID,” Pam shares. “The reason why Larry is sitting here today, cancer-free three years after his diagnosis, is because Dana-Farber was able to provide care during that time.”
“Dana-Farber is an excellent hospital that provides care to people who need it most, at a time when they need it most,” Larry adds. “From the parking attendants to the technicians who draw blood, the nurses, doctors, X-ray techs—these people truly care. I’ve worked in every hospital in the city, and Dana-Farber is special.”
Help support patients like Larry by joining The Dana-Farber Campaign, our ambitious, multi-year fundraising effort to prevent, treat, and defy cancer. The Dana-Farber Campaign will accelerate the Institute’s strategic priorities by supporting revolutionary science, extraordinary care, and exceptional expertise. As a community, we have the power to create a more hopeful, cancer-free future—in Boston and around the world. Together, we can defy cancer at every turn. Learn more about The Dana-Farber Campaign and how you can get involved at DefyCancer.org.