The UCLA Department of Head and Neck Surgery is committed to maintaining excellence in patient care. We take great pride in being able to share a few of our patients' stories with you.
Dear Dr. Chhetri, Happy National Doctors’ Day. I am not sure whether you remember me among the numerous patients you must treat every day at UCLA. But you changed my whole world powerfully for the better one afternoon in December 2020: we met on Friday, 12/11, in the wake of my recent orthopaedic surgery, after which I had inexplicably lost my voice despite zero intubation. There were myriad other symptoms which I wasn’t certain were connected; in sum, the situation was perplexing and deeply concerning. I was at an absolute loss.
View Lauren's Story >
Our experience at UCLA Health was exceptional from start to finish. My son was diagnosed with a benign tumor of the parotid gland. We were unhappy with our local care and did extensive research to find the best surgeon for his procedure. All roads led to Dr Maie St. John. From our first conversation, she assured me that she would care for my son as if he were her own, and she remained true to her word. Always available, easily accessible, caring and concerned for his well-being, she was all that I had hoped for and more in a surgeon. She assembled a stellar team for his surgery, including Dr. Vishad Nabili, a Facial Reconstructive surgeon and Dr Jack Buckley, who was his Anesthesiologist.
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I was diagnosed with early stage tonsil cancer in June 2019 after my tonsillectomy biopsy done by Dr. Wells my ENT revealed squamous cell cancer, HPV positive. I met with Dr. Reeves a UCLA oncologist who referred me to Dr. Maie St. John, also of UCLA. I called on a Thursday and got in on the next Tuesday, due to a cancellation. After reviewing my records, she suggested surgery to further remove cancer cells remaining, and a modified neck dissection to evaluate lymph nodes for cancer. I consulted with her team that day who further gave me answers to my questions. The team included a radiologist and psychologist. The surgery was scheduled for July 31, 2019, followed by a six-day hospital stay at UCLA.
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I would like to endorse the detailed and caring approach of Dr Srikanthan. She treats her patients as human beings and she has a rare quality for listening to them and to their symptoms too. I highly recommend her as an endocrinologist and as a physician, as she has been the only one who I felt listened to me in my very long journey through inexplicably high blood pressure for 17 years with different GPs, endocrinologists, cardiologists and other physicians. Except for her none listened or saw me. I had very low blood pressure until i was 40, when I suddenly suffered from very high blood pressure. No medication I was given would work. I ended up in ERs in the States and Europe.
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This testimonial is in regards to treatment I received for my tongue cancer by Dr. St. John and her team at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. In 2016, I was diagnosed first with Stage 3B carcinoid tumor of the terminal ileum (colon), and then a month later with Stage 4A tongue cancer. I first had surgery by Dr. Anton Bilchik at Providence Saint John Hospital in Santa Monica for the carcinoid followed 3 weeks later with surgery by Dr. Maie St John at UCLA for the tongue cancer. Afterwards I had 2 months of chemo and radiation of the oral cavity as both the tongue cancer and carcinoid tumor had spread to nearby lymph nodes. A doctor at UCLA said afterwards that my 5 year survival rate was only 0-5% if I had no treatment.
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I had the fortunate experience of having Dr. St. John on my surgical team for treatment of my Ameloblastoma. In late July 2020, I was scheduled by my primary surgeon, Dr. Keith Blackwell, for a Fibula Free Flap surgery. This surgery involves an invasive procedure on both the jaw and the leg, and the operation lasts over 8 hours with the patient under general anesthesia. Dr. Blackwell advised me that Dr. St. John would be joining him as the two surgeons conducting this surgery. I did my research on Dr. St. John and learned that she led the Head and Neck Dept. at UCLA.
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In July 2019, I got the message no one wants to hear, “Mr. Nolan, I’m afraid you have Stage 4 cancer.” A common skin cancer (Basal cell carcinoma) had metastasized to my saliva glands and involved my facial nerves. My world turned to black. Test results showed cancer moving along my nerves towards my spinal column, greater auricular nerve and brain stem. After a medical review board review of treatments was inconclusive, Dr. Maie St John stepped in and changed my life trajectory forever.
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I don't even know where to begin or how to express how I feel about Dr. Mae St John. I am HERE, HEALED, and STRONGER than I was 2 1/2 years ago. I cannot praise highly enough the incredible professionalism and kindest the HEAD and NECK team at UCLA under the leadership of Dr. Maie St, John and Mensa Hasanovic has provided for my family and myself. They are available 24/7 with efficiency and attention to details. I truly cannot imagine navigating my personal medical needs without them.
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Walking into meet the cancer surgeons that would potentially perform a very tricky surgery could be a very intimidating thing, but within a few minutes I realized this experience would be very different. The team not only put me at ease with their immense knowledge, but within minutes I felt like they were treating me as a dear friend vs a random patient. The team was one of the most kind, compassionate and competent groups I’ve ever had the pleasure of dealing with.
View Deena's Story >
I’ve maybe been taking advantage of great health. Living a bit of a health charmed life. After all, I had just completed a wilderness motorcycle adventure ride through the remote Grand Canyon. This was to launch my new streaming tv travel series I named “Riding Remote...And Alone”. But when my neck suddenly swelled up to the size of a baseball I knew something bad was happening inside of me. Little did I know I was about to face anybody’s worst moment. I was in fact being told...I had throat cancer. Looking back now, I wouldn’t have wanted to experience that news any other way then with Dr. Maie St. John. Sitting in her office she delivered the diagnosis with equal parts calm, confidence and a dignity that reflected her deep sense of caring for me.
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Hi, my name is Lawrence Fine, I am here to talk to you about why I chose a special surgeon, Dr. Maie St John, at UCLA Head and Neck cancer surgery. Dr Maie St John is a head and neck surgeon who has a resume above and beyond Doctors in her field; google her. What was important to me and should be to you is that she is Board Certified in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck and is very experienced in head and neck cancer treatments. I wanted a Doctor that has great expertise in the treatment of throat and tonsil cancer. Robotic surgery of the head and neck and robotic throat cancer surgery is her expertise. This type of surgery requires special training to make sure you have excellent outcomes.
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Starting with the first visit, through two surgeries, and all follow-up visits everyone within the UCLA health care system were professional, compassionate, and supportive. The oncologist, Dr. Ribas, who first saw me reviewed the treatment plan in detail, set up all my screening tests, and arranged for me to see the otolaryngologist, Dr. St. John, the following day who would do my first surgery. Dr. St. John arranged for pre-op evaluation with Dr. Watt and cardiology evaluation with Dr. Bokhoor the same day. One of Dr. St. John’s nurses, Mensa Hasonovic, provided a contact number and was a constant resource to support me every step of the way.
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The care that I received at UCLA by Dr. St. John and her team and all the other teams and the nurses and aides was beyond amazing. I used very little pain meds in recovery and eventually switched to Tylenol. At home, I only used Children’s Tylenol for discomfort management. I credit Dr. St. John for her up-to-the-minute knowledge as well as surgical skills (and the da Vinci machine). I cannot say enough about each team. My healing has been quick for a surgery of this kind, and I am more than grateful to be on this side of it. It took a team of “angel” friends that got me through this experience, with the head angel, Dr. St. John, at the helm. I’m forever in gratitude.
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Climbing Mountains - PHASE ONE has been around for 20 years, raising over $20 million. Yet with all that success, there are more mountains to climb. Dynamic optical contrast imaging (DOCI) leverages a novel realization of temporally dependent measurements of tissue autofluorescence that allows the acquisition of specific tissue properties. This method enables better tissue characterization by utilizing wide-field signal integration, eliminating constraints of uniform illumination, and reducing time-intensive computations that are bottlenecks in the clinical translation of traditional fluorescence lifetime imaging.
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Thanks from Afar! When I was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer, they went above and beyond to prioritize my case and keep lines of communication open as I coordinated a cross-country trip for my surgery. Thanks to the dedication of Dr. St. John and her team, I can eat, speak, smile and laugh with almost no impairment - an outcome that was not expected based on my diagnosis. I will be forever grateful to them for accepting my case and providing me with some of the best care I have received in over twenty years of cancer treatment.
View Libby's Story >
After 2 minutes with Dr. St. John I knew I didn’t need to meet any other Doctors, and they agreed. She took the time to answer all of our questions, talk us through her view of what was going on with me, and her recommendation for treatment. I never went to meet any other Doctors. To this day I know I made the right decision and couldn’t have found a better team of Doctors to take this journey with me. The entire staff at UCLA has gone above and beyond at every turn of my treatment, making sure that I am not only comfortable, but that my family is as well.
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I am so grateful and thankful to Dr. St John, Dr. Ishiyama, Dr. Nabili and Dr. Veiseh who have all used their God given talent of healing. They wasted no time for my surgery and treatment. On my way to surgery, my Mom had always assured me that God has led her to contact the best doctors in their field of expertise to treat my case and I should not worry one bit. After the surgery I was seen by my doctors to see how my recovery was going. Their encouragement, care and attention to my case has helped me not to worry about my condition. They have done a terrific job of bringing me back to health.
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Overall my experience at UCLA has been exceptional in every way. I can say to anyone that comes to UCLA with head or neck cancer that you are in one of the best possible places in the world to receive treatment. Dr. St John and Dr. Blackwell are truly exceptional people that happen to be incredible doctors. Their patients and I are very lucky to have such dedicated doctors that are pushing the envelope in the care and treatment of Head and Neck cancer patients.
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Sharon was shocked when a lump on her face turned out to be cancer. The tumor was large, overwhelming the parotid gland and extending to both sides of the facial nerve. Understandably, Sharon was anxious and worried. She sought help from Maie St. John, MD, PhD, of UCLA’s Head and Neck Program, whose gentle approach and hopeful prognosis helped when Sharon needed it most.“Even though she was telling me [my diagnosis], and it was all very scary,” Sharon said of Dr. St. John, “she looked at me with such warm and caring…that I knew Dr. St. John would do everything she could.”
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