Regional One Health Cancer Care makes the most advanced, complex surgical procedures available to patients throughout the Mid-South.
For Robert Mayweather, it has provided a chance to regain his quality of life.
After receiving care from nationally-renowned surgical oncologist Dr. David Shibata, Robert is getting back to the things that matter most and feels reinvigorated in his fight against cancer.
When Robert Mayweather describes Dr. David Shibata, the surgeon he credits with giving him his life back, he uses works like expertise, compassion and skill.
He also uses another word: courage.
When other doctors told Robert there was nothing they could do for him, Dr. Shibata listened and offered options – and because of that, Robert’s life has gone from “pure misery” to one focused on friends, family and renewed hope for the future.
“He didn’t make fairytale promises, but he was courageous enough to give me an objective look,” Robert said. “He wasn’t afraid to take on my case, and I’m glad he’s the one that did because of how complicated it ended up being. It worked out the way it was supposed to.”
In 2021, Robert experienced bouts of diarrhea and constipation. After a colonoscopy, he was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer that had spread to his liver and lungs. “They told me I had three months to live,” he said.
From there, Robert began an agonizing journey.
He had emergency surgery and was given an ostomy bag, which collects waste outside the body. He developed sepsis and was not expected to survive.
His health took a positive turn when he recovered from his surgery and infection and had a good response to chemotherapy, but then a hernia resulted in another surgery. The surgery failed to repair the hernia, and Robert had to continue to use an ostomy bag.
“Life was miserable, to say the least,” he said. “From there, it was a series of tug-of-wars to try to find a doctor who would help.”
One surgeon looked at his file and refused to even see him. Robert received a call from the front office: “There’s nothing he can do for you.”
Surgical oncologist Dr. David Shibata said he aims to put patients at the center of their care. “This is an example of Regional One Health’s personalized approach of partnering with our cancer patients in making treatment decisions that include their goals and desires.”
It’s a message he continued to hear until he consulted Dr. Shibata.
David Shibata, MD, FACS, FASCRS is a surgical oncologist specializing in colorectal cancer and Executive Director at Regional One Health Cancer Care and Chair of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center Department of Surgery. He is a nationally known expert in the surgical treatment of colorectal cancer and participates in national panels that set the standards of care. As such, he has the expertise and experience to help patients with complex diagnoses.
“Mr. Mayweather faced a difficult challenge of balancing the risks of complex surgery that could greatly improve his quality of life at the cost of temporarily coming off of chemotherapy treatment,” Dr. Shibata said. “When he came to Regional One Health for a second opinion, we helped him navigate this complicated decision. In the end, he elected to proceed with surgery.”
Robert had a 9-hour surgery in which Dr. Shibata closed his ostomy and a mucous fistula and repaired his hernia.
“The surgery was a success and his quality of life has already greatly improved. He feels that he has renewed energy to take on chemotherapy and continue his fight,” Dr. Shibata said. “This is an example of Regional One Health’s personalized approach of partnering with our cancer patients in making treatment decisions that include their goals and desires.”
Robert’s sister, Robin, has been there through it all.
After the difficult path that brought Robert to Regional One Health, it was a relief to watch Dr. Shibata and his team put him at ease. “Everyone was welcoming. They answered all of our questions. We never felt like a burden,” she said. “We didn’t experience that at other hospitals. The energy here is wonderful. Here, they smile. They’re like a family.”
Not only did it improve Robert’s physical health – he has less pain, better mobility and no longer endures the social and personal discomfort of the ostomy bag – it gave him newfound hope.
“When you have cancer, no matter how much support you have from loved ones, it belongs to you. I go to sleep with it at night and wake up with it in the morning,” Robert said. “Adding Dr. Shibata to my care team has given me renewed hope. He was willing to listen and help, and that gave me a more positive outlook to try to fight this.”
There’s plenty worth fighting for.
Robert has choices as to where he receives his oncology care – and he wouldn’t look anywhere but Regional One Health.“ For my oncology needs, I’ve found a place for the rest of my life. No one could convince me to go anywhere else. Dr. Shibata has given me life back.”
Robert, 58, is a native Memphian but lived in Washington D.C. for 20 years after graduating Howard University. After returning to Memphis, he dove into public service on the Convention Center Commission and Center City Revenue Finance Corporation. He has worked in finance and continues to work in the medical supply business and as a partner in a company that repairs high-end European vehicles.
“I love the outdoors, I love cooking. I’m an avid motor sports addict. I love watching football – not even a specific team, just the game itself,” he said.
But most of all, he loves his family.
He has three grown children: a daughter who is in her residency for a pharmacy doctorate, a son who played football and baseball at University of Miami and is now in an executive residency program, and a daughter who joined Robin in the family’s preschool business.
Robert and Robin talk daily, and Robin joins him at his medical appointments. Sunday dinners – with Robert rediscovering his love of cooking – are a weekly tradition.
“They gave me my big brother back. Our mom and dad are gone, and it was scary to think he wouldn’t be here,” Robin said. “He’s found new life. He’s excited about life again.”
“When I woke up from surgery, I felt that God had performed a miracle through Dr. Shibata’s hands,” Robert said. “For my oncology needs, I’ve found a place for the rest of my life. No one could convince me to go anywhere else. Dr. Shibata has given me life back.”
In the News
For another look at Robert’s story, check out this report on ABC24.
Local Memphis sat down with Robert to talk about how Regional One Health Cancer Care and Dr. Shibata have given him a chance to receive expert care right here in Memphis.