RICHARD KAHN ON CONQUERING CANCER AND GIVING BACK
Richard Kahn, an 88-year-old investment advisor from Sarasota, Florida, credits Loma Linda University Medical Center with helping him pass the physical examination for his pilot's license every year since 1999, the year he reached out to the James M. Slater, MD, Proton Treatment and Research Center after receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer.
Kahn heard of proton therapy from his wife. "Keke is one of only 15 all-breed dog show judges in the world," he notes, "so she travels all over for her job. At a show in California, one of the exhibitors mentioned he was going to Loma Linda for proton therapy."
In following up on Keke's lead, Kahn, an engineer by training, discovered he liked the science behind protons better than conventional radiation for prostate cancer. Even so, he wanted a second opinion.
"I went to Johns Hopkins," he reports. "When I mentioned Loma Linda, the doctor said, ‘If you can afford the time to go out there, we're through talking here. Go!'"
Armed with that advice, Kahn arrived at Loma Linda and started treatment in the spring. Two things impressed him during his time as a patient at the James M. Slater, M.D. Proton Treatment and Research Center: the friendliness of the staff and the accuracy of the procedure.
"Your staff is the best," he says. "They care. Your staff cares. I guess that's the best way to sum it up. Of course, I was already convinced of the value of the treatment. I was on cloud nine from the time I got there."
Kahn, who learned to fly during World War II, was still walking in the clouds a few weeks later when he left Loma Linda cancer-free and energized. He credits the lifesaving treatment with giving him the vitality to pass his flight physicals "with flying colors."
After the war, Kahn worked as an engineer for a Michigan firm that manufactured an alternative to the Formica brand of laminate materials. With an entrepreneur's eye for innovation, he soon discovered a lucrative niche market, resigned from the company, and started manufacturing plastic desktops for schools. Business was booming. "We shipped desktops all over the world," he says.
Before long, Kahn found himself accepting a generous buyout offer from a firm listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Since they paid him in stocks, he went to work as a stock specialist at the Exchange.
"In my effort to dispose of the stock, I found it would be better for me to buy a seat on the stock exchange while I sold off the stock," he discloses. "It worked out well. I ultimately ended up as an investment advisor. It's an unusual career path, but it follows a logical series of steps from engineering to manufacturing to investing."
The life of a stock trader on the NYSE floor was invigorating, giving Kahn a view to major financial transactions all over the world. It also provided significant insights into how the world of finance works.
Kahn put some of that knowledge to work in establishing a charitable foundation with two principle objectives in mind. First, he wanted to make sure his children received regular disbursements once he is passes from the scene. Second, he wanted to insure that neither they nor the eight charities he supports-one of which is Loma Linda University Medical Center-will have to face excessive taxation as a result of his gift.
"The government taxes the individual every day of his working life," he observes. "I have no desire to let my estate be taxed after I'm not here.
"It's not expensive to set up a charitable foundation and you don't need billions of dollars to do it," Kahn adds.
Why did he choose to remember the James M. Slater, M.D. Proton Treatment and Research Center in his estate? He cites three reasons, all connected to benefits he received from proton therapy.
"First, as an engineer, I recognized early on that proton technology was superior to any other treatment available in 1999," Kahn explains. "It still is. Second, I hate the uncertainty and pain of surgery. Lastly, since my avocation is aviation, I must pass an annual physical exam to maintain my Commercial Pilot's license. At age 88, I remain Pilot-in-Command. If this case study attracts others to the Loma Linda proton center, I will have achieved my goal."
For information on how to support the James M. Slater, M.D. Proton Treatment and Research Center through an estate gift, contact Rebecca Grissom by phone at 909-558-4553 or online at llulegacy.org.