Jace Turner Benefits from Our Multi-Specialty Model of Care

Mar 12, 2019, 12:30 PM by Nicole Young


The cell phone call Jace Turner received from Sansum Clinic’s Dr. Bryce Holderness while walking to work last year stopped him in his tracks and is one he promises will stick in his memory forever. “I am on the sidewalk and he says ‘Jace, my good fellow, it looks like we may have found something.’ From the tone of his voice, he was concerned. And that concerned me.”

Drs. Scott Tobis and Bryce Holderness with Jace Turner

The 44-year-old community relations librarian with the Santa Barbara Public Library visited his internist for what he guessed was nagging prostatitis. Since he cringes even contemplating medical appointments and even fainted once during an exam, Jace’s arrival at Dr. Holderness’ office was an emotional hurdle in itself and his doctor sensed it. “These are the phone calls and office visits that are the most difficult as a physician,” admits Dr. Holderness. He calmly framed Jace’s symptoms as common and treatable but ones that could also mimic the pain and discomfort linked to certain types of fast-growing cancers. Dr. Holderness recommended an ultrasound for confirmation. That decision is one Jace believes may have saved his life. The scan flagged an abnormality and Dr. Holderness knew immediately that he’d need to pull together a team of specialists for his patient.

Urologist Dr. Scott Tobis and oncologist Dr. Gregg Newman joined Dr. Holderness in becoming the trio of physicians Jace would come to rely on for the coming year. “It almost feels like going home in a way. I feel so comfortable with the people I am interacting with,” he explains. “I believe in them.”

Waiting on test results altered Jace’s entire life perspective. “Everything became Technicolor. I could hear the bees, I’m noticing the butterflies. There is this acute awareness that all of the things I was worried about or that I found stressful in my life, all of a sudden were shed.” After this hyper-awareness, fear crept in, not for himself but for his wife, Nadine, and 21- year-old daughter, Eden, and what they might endure if his health tumbled into uncertainty. Dr. Tobis’ care and concern helped to ease Jace’s anxiety. “I immediately felt like I could just talk to him – and this is a sensitive subject. He is a lot younger than me, but at the same time I had complete faith and trust in him because of his demeanor,” describes Jace about his urologist. He especially appreciated Dr. Tobis calling him in the evenings and on weekends to deliver test results just as soon as they were available, the first time to inform him that he had stage 1 testicular cancer, the second time to let Jace know the cancer hadn’t spread throughout his body. “I felt like I had dodged a bullet,” he shares. After surgery, Jace sought counsel from Dr. Newman on whether to undergo chemotherapy or just opt for surveillance. “He guided me through this process after a concerning diagnosis, perhaps, everyone’s worst fear, and made it as human and manageable as possible,” notes Jace. After listening to opinions from his “sounding board” of physicians and weighing the latest research, Jace decided surveillance would be the best option for him.

The entire cancer experience now colored everything Jace encountered daily and it inspired him to give back in some way. His role at the library already placed him in the community running book clubs, hosting poetry readings and working to engage the people of his hometown in learning and literature. What didn’t exist was a book club specifically for cancer patients and caregivers. Jace worked alongside staff at the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center to put his idea into motion. “The thing about getting cancer or getting sick is that it’s so isolating,” discloses Jace. “I feel very strongly about bringing a sense of normalcy back to your life when you are going through things like this.”

Those attending the book club appreciate how Jace implicitly understands their struggles as a cancer survivor himself. One patient told him happily that the club’s selection was the first book she’d read in two years. “It’s definitely the best part of my job,” he adds. “Jace has been incredibly strong through all of this and he’s created an unbelievable outlet for cancer patients, survivors, and loved ones with the book club,” says Dr. Holderness.

When he’s not working around town or puttering in his backyard succulent garden, you may find Jace in his home study typing out short poems on his green Hermes 3000 vintage typewriter. What began as a form of release during the early days of his medical journey has garnered him a throng of Instagram fans who follow his handle @jace.ryan.turner. Some appreciate the artfulness of his writing; others relate to his intimate descriptions of what it’s like to live and breathe with cancer in your body. “I want to remember this and I want to leave something behind about my experience,” acknowledges Jace. When he’s back at work and the usual stresses of life pile up, he refers to his poems as a reminder of how temporary life is.

As a cancer patient, Jace’s relationship with his medical team will continue on for many years. He’s impressed that his physicians insist on a holistic approach to care and take time to check on his emotional well-being as well as his physical progress. “Everyone I have interacted with at Sansum and the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center has been amazing. I feel so special,” concludes Jace. “Never once in my whole experience did I feel like I wasn’t in the best of care."