Barry Spector, Heart Institute Patient

Barry Spector, 64, is in good health today and is glad to have found a primary care provider at Virginia Mason he can rely on to keep it that way. "He addresses any concerns I have quickly," says Barry, who has faced serious medical challenges in the past.

Barry's first health crisis occurred when he was 37 and living in Boston. He was part owner of a successful business selling personal computers and his life seemed to be on track. But then he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, a serious cancer that affects the body's blood and lymphatic systems. Barry successful completed chemotherapy and radiation treatments and was in good health in 1989 when he moved to Seattle.

“I wasn't a Virginia Mason patient at the time but it didn't matter. They took great care of me.”

Soon after the move, Barry went to work for Microsoft and held a variety of positions within the company before retiring 18 years later. It was an unexpectedly dramatic departure. As Barry was preparing to go in for his last day on the job in 2008, he experienced shortness of breath and jaw pain. Concerned, he went to the Virginia Mason Emergency Department, and things moved quickly after that.

"I wasn't a Virginia Mason patient at the time but it didn't matter," remembers Barry. "They took great care of me." Virginia Mason physicians were able to find a blockage in the left descending artery of Barry's heart. This artery is also known as "the widow maker" for the number of deaths attributed to its blockage.

During an emergency procedure in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab, a Virginia Mason cardiologist put a stent in the artery to reopen it. Barry felt better almost immediately and says that the procedure "probably saved my life."

While he was hospitalized for his heart problem, tests showed Barry had a low iron count. "That's when I got to see the team approach at Virginia Mason." Tests and follow-ups continued after Barry's release and, eventually, he was found to have carcinoids of the small intestines, a slow-growing cancer.

During this time, Barry connected with the doctor who would become, and still is, his personal physician. Barry's wife, Karen, has also become a patient. "It's pretty easy for us to get our questions answered and to get seen quickly if there's anything we're concerned about."

The operation to remove the carcinoids was successful and today Barry isn't focused on any particular health concerns. He and Karen are too busy fly fishing and being world travelers.