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Fred's Story

“ My wife and I have the tenacity to dig in and find the very, very best... ”

A San Francisco native, Fred Schweiger grew up helping his grandparents in their mountain vineyard. He’s always had a passion for hard work, determination and resourcefulness. In 1979, when recession brought the building industry to a standstill, Fred and his wife Sally decided to temporarily close his construction company and develop their property on Spring Mountain into a working vineyard. Today Schweiger Vineyards is a bonded winery, with 35 acres of wine grapes at the 2000 ft elevation.

Fred realized he needed to better understand the art and science behind a successful vineyard, so he studied viticulture at UC - Davis and Santa Rosa Junior Colleges. He also sought advice from recognized Napa Valley vintners.

When Fred was diagnosed with prostate cancer four years ago, he turned the same energy and focus to choosing treatment. “My wife and I have the tenacity to dig in and find the very, very best,” he says. “We said this is life-saving, how do we find the best?” He and Sally researched to identify and interview the top doctors in the area. Fred chose Dr. Gary Grossfeld of Marin Urology who performed a successful radical prostatectomy.

“We figured that was all done. A reoccurrence wasn’t part of the plan.” Then in March of this year, his Prostate-Specific Antigen began to rise. “We started with a little bit of concern, since prostate cancers are typically slow-growing,” Once again, Fred found himself researching cancer treatments. Dr. Grossfeld mentioned one of the top Radiation Oncologists was Dr. David Tate, at the Martin-O’Neil Cancer at the St. Helena Hospital.

“It was amazing and reassuring to find that we had one of the best treatment centers anywhere, right here in Napa Valley.” Familiar with Dr. Tate’s background on the medical faculty at Stanford, Fred was impressed with how “down to earth” he was. “I felt a great deal of trust early on with Dr. Tate. He’s very open, very reassuring, just incredible. And he was right there with us.”

He was impressed with the technology at Martin-O’Neil Cancer Center. “They have equipment that’s even newer than Stanford and UCSF, the newest Varian direct beam that can really focus in. That’s what sold me.” The center’s Dynamic Targeting® Image-Guided Radiotherapy uses digital imaging techniques to ensure pinpoint radiation delivery, sparing healthy surrounding tissue.

“Even when you’ve been there just a short period of time, you feel ultimate trust in the people who are taking care of you. They really get to know you, and care about you as if you’re part of their family.”

Fred and Dr. Tate chose a treatment plan that combined hormone therapy and radiation. Fatigue was a big concern, but he found the side effects manageable. He credits a large part of that to the support and advice he received, including from Senior Radiation Therapist Patti Mitchell Johnson. Describing Patti and the Radiation Team Fred says, “They’re exceptional in terms of explaining what they’re doing and what to expect.”

Going forward, there are still uncertainties. “Will you get it all? You don’t know for a while,” Fred says. The most important thing, however, is the confidence he has in the treatment he received. To learn more about Fred visit