Howard’s Mother Battles Cancer

(WSVN) - She is Howard Finklestein’s mother, and Charlotte was told she had stage four lung cancer and needed to prepare to die.

This time Howard needed help, so he began a search for someone to save his mother’s life.

It was Charlotte’s 90th birthday.

When Howard’s mother Charlotte Rothfarb was 80, she was told she had stage four lung cancer.

Charlotte Rothfarb: “One of the other doctors said, well, your time is up.”

Howard Finklestein: “It’s like someone takes a two-by-four and hits you in the stomach and the head at the same time.”

But cancer had never met Charlotte.

Charlotte Rothfarb: “I am not finished yet. I want more.”

Howard scrambled to try to find someone to save his mother’s life.

Other doctors told him one man can help you.

Howard Finklestein: “He is a rockstar in the world of oncology. He is a man who flies all over the world to bring his knowledge to other nations.”

So Charlotte and Howard met that man they call MJ.

Charlotte Rothfarb: “He is brilliant. He is kind. He is handsome.”

Oncologist Mohammad Jahanzeb told Charlotte he felt chemotherapy was too devastating for the 80-year-old, and he wanted to try a new immunotherapy drug called Opdivo.

Dr. Mohammad Jahanzeb, Florida Precision Oncology: “You will be my first patient to go on it, and again in a brave spirit she said, ‘What do I have to lose? Let me try it.'”

So she did.

Charlotte Rothfarb: “It was an amazing procedure. I would sit there and OK, I am done, and that’s it. Then I would have a PET scan, and they would say, ‘The cancer is going away. Amazing.'”

Yes, with MJ’s guidance, the tumors in her lungs, hampering her breathing started shrinking.

Howard Finklestein: “It worked spectacularly.”

After a year of therapy, Charlotte again showed MJ what kind of patient he had.

Dr. Mohammad Jahanzeb: “She said, ‘Can I go back to playing tennis?’ I was amazed. I said, ‘Yes, there is no embargo on tennis. If you feel up to it, play it.'”

The drug worked so well, Charlotte has not had a treatment in years, allowing her to enjoy painting, tending to her orchids, and of course, seeing grandchildren get married and the birth of great-grandchildren.

All, she says, because of MJ.

Charlotte Rothfarb: “He saved my life. Yes, if it weren’t for him, I would be gone.”

Howard Finklestein: “I have no doubt that God used MJ to save my mother. There is no other explanation.”

When Howard and his mother describe MJ, they leave one thing out. He is humble and isn’t comfortable being told he saved Charlotte’s life.

Dr. Mohammad Jahanzeb: “I joke with her, whenever she tries to give me credit, I say, ‘No, you make me look good as a doctor. Thank you.'”

Here everyone can agree, the key is Charlotte’s determination and attitude.

Charlotte Rothfarb: “You have to have that willpower and this has been my motto all along. ‘Yes, I can, and yes, I will.'”

In fact, Charlotte doesn’t know it, but MJ uses her to help other patients beaten down by cancer.

Dr. Mohammad Jahanzeb: “Because I say don’t give up. I have a patients like this, and that lifts up their morale, so she is serving other patients without knowing it.”

Ten years ago, Charlotte was told she was dying. The determined grandmother didn’t listen.

Charlotte Rothfarb: “Every morning I wake up and I say, ‘Thank you, God.’ My feet go down on the floor, and I stand up straight, woo. That’s it.”

The inspiring patient, the remarkable doctor and the grateful son, all together, 10 years later.

More about Dr. Jahanzeb can be found here.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
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