In a tough part of town, Ingrid Ottesen walks her dogs. Ingrid — now in her 80s — isn’t scared of anything. "I live in an area infested with gang members and drug dealers, but I’m not afraid of them. They’re afraid of me," she says in her thick Norwegian accent.
In 1997, Ingrid faced a much scarier opponent. During a routine physical, her physician found a lump in her breast. She was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer.
She then began the daunting search to find the right oncologist.
As luck would have it, she tuned her television to the right station at the right time and saw a show featuring a local oncologist and his laboratory – Rational Therapeutics (now Nagourney Cancer Institute). "I thought, ‘my God. I’ve got to get a hold of this guy."
The next day, Ingrid got on the phone.
“I called information and asked if there was a Dr. Nagourney in Long Beach, California. I didn’t even know how to spell his name.” She got the number for Rational Therapeutics, and gave the lab a call.
From that day forward, Dr. Nagourney took charge of Ingrid’s care.
She was scheduled for surgery and had her right breast removed.
Other physicians were pessimistic.
When cancer has spread to more than five lymph nodes, patients are given little hope. Ingrid’s aggressive breast cancer had spread to 13 nodes.
She was told it was a death sentence, but Dr. Nagourney knew better.
Ingrid is a tough lady.
She followed the assay-directed chemotherapeutic regimen and wasn’t sick for a day.
“I was the only one at the clinic with a smile on my face,” she remembers. During her infusions she even knitted a blue and white Norwegian sweater.
Today — cancer-free for more than a decade — Ingrid thanks the team at Nagourney Cancer Institute for 'being nothing but wonderful.'
Now, she can get back to what really matters. She hopes to one day return to Norway, but not without her dogs.
Always the fighter, Ingrid says, "I can’t move because one of my dogs (a pit bull) would not be allowed in Norway. I need to figure out who to contact in the government to tell them to stop being so stupid."