As he was beginning the process of relocating from San Francisco to the East Coast last year, Dr. David Nguyen knew he wanted to find a medical practice that shared his philosophy on cancer care. In his eyes, it is paramount for there to be a special bond between the team of providers, and for that familial atmosphere to trickle down to the patients as well, many of whom are enduring one of the worst experiences they’ll ever face.
Dr. Nguyen found the perfect fit in Lindenberg Cancer & Hematology Center, a practice started by Dr. Noah Lindenberg that focuses on treating the individual rather than his or her disease. The practice recently celebrated its fifth anniversary and has experienced tremendous growth in that time, as evidenced by team members such as Dr. Nguyen and nurse practitioner Agata Kraszewska, who have completely bought into Dr. Lindenberg’s vision.
“The team camaraderie is unmatched at any other site, my colleagues are wonderful to work with and it’s such a tight-knit group here,” Dr. Nguyen says. “Dr. Lindenberg has done a fantastic job starting this clinic. At a big organization, you don’t know who does what and you don’t interact with them, but here it’s very personal and that allows us to be more personal with our patients. We can come up with tailor-made treatment options instead of just following a cookbook depending on where their disease stage is. It’s that personal touch that really drew me.”
Dr. Lindenberg’s goal when he founded the practice was not only to offer cutting-edge treatments to South Jersey residents, but also to foster an environment where every single patient feels valued and celebrated for who they are, rather than restricted by the disease they are battling.
“We believe that treating patients is far more than simply giving them a medication or a treatment plan,” he says. “It’s giving of ourselves: myself, other practitioners and our entire staff. Our patients become like family. Supporting them physically but also emotionally factors deeply into their prognosis, how well they do and their experience throughout the process.”
A graduate of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, Dr. Nguyen stayed in the city for his residency at Mount Sinai Beth Israel. He moved back to his native California to complete a fellowship at Stanford and has now been a practicing oncologist for more than seven years.
“In medical school I didn’t know which specialty I wanted to do; it was more in residency that I discovered oncology,” he says. “I would say of all the specialties I explored, oncology is the one that doesn’t rest on its laurels. There’s always an active pursuit for better testing and better treatments, because our patients need it. I enjoy that we can bring those new advancements to our clinic here.”
Another aspect that Dr. Nguyen appreciates about the practice is its openness to new methods of attacking the disease. Since every cancer is unique, Lindenberg Cancer & Hematology Center offers a customized approach to each patient, using such advanced treatments as precision medicine, targeted therapies, stem cell transplants, immunotherapy and others. Dr. Lindenberg explains that more research is being done today in oncology than all other disciplines combined, and that has led to renewed optimism.
“I do think that nationally there is a change in mood,” he says. “The word cancer still has some old stigma associated with it and it’s still a scary diagnosis to have. However, because of a lot of these new treatments, patients are very often well informed when they come in. When they’re not informed, it’s a moment for us to educate and step in and inject meaningful hope for long-term survival, even in cases where patients’ initial diagnosis may seem hopeless to them.
“There are a lot of exciting treatments that have more precise targets and far less morbidity, side effects and toxicity, with more meaningful survival. Patients are experiencing longer survival, higher cure rates and fewer side effects in many cases.”
While telemedicine increased during the pandemic, Dr. Nguyen is happy to be back seeing patients in person, especially since cancer can be such a scary diagnosis and he strives to be a voice of comfort during a fearful time. Throughout his career, patients have appreciated his bedside manner, with some thanking him for curing them of the disease and others grateful for the additional time he gave them with families at the end of life.
“You have to be prepared for everything and not all cases are happy cases,” Dr. Nguyen says. “What I like to do is be upfront and transparent, and set expectations for where the treatment is going. Our patients deserve honesty about what we think regarding their treatment, and that helps them make personal decisions about their life.”