Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Thursday, November 22, 2012
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Couple closer after life-changing battles

Monroe County Commissioner George Neugent, and his wife, Suzie, have even more cause to celebrate and be thankful this holiday, as both have recently been given clean bills of health in their battles with cancer.

George Neugent, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer three years ago, has been cancer free for the past six months, he said. Suzie Neugent, who was diagnosed with liver cancer 18 months ago, underwent a MRI two weeks ago that determined her cancer treatment had destroyed her tumors, George Neugent said.

"We have a great deal to be thankful for," he said.

Some of the scariness of the ordeal was how long their illnesses might have gone -- months, if not longer -- had they not had routine medical procedures or tests. Neither had any symptoms or telltale signs, George Neugent said.

Doctors discovered Neugent had cancer after he an annual physical and simple prostate exam. His wife's cancer was discovered after she gave blood; blood tests revealed irregularities that turned out to be cancer.

Their ordeal has left Neugent with a more skeptical view of how the United States handles health care and given him greater sympathy for the uninsured and the underinsured, he said.

His family wracked up "easily $500,000" in medical charges, most of which was covered by insurance, he said.

"If we didn't have insurance, I would be dead or going to a funeral," Neugent said. "This is why we need to address the health care issue in this country. Without insurance, we would have never received the level of care that we received. Even with insurance, these types of situations can bankrupt people with good economic wherewithal."

Their ordeal has brought them closer together, not only with each other, but also with friends and colleagues.

"The prayers and the amount of interest in our well-being was overwhelming," Neugent said.

tohara@keysnews.com

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