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Omaha Magazine

Treading with Care in Matters of Life & Death

Dec 27, 2022 08:22AM ● By Kara Schweiss
Iris Moore.

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.     

As a successful otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor/ENT), Dr. Iris Moore—who very  recently retired—was known for her compassion and attentive care for patients. 

“I truly cared about what happened to each individual that I saw. I care about people and want to help them, but mostly, as a physician, I listened,” she said. “I listened to what they had to say and what their major concerns were.”

“She graduated as a physician in 1979 and completed her training as an ear, nose, and throat surgeon in 1983. She has run a highly successful practice since that time,” said friend and fellow physician Dr. Alan Richards, a retired head and neck cancer surgeon. “Iris has always been incredibly hardworking and caring for her patients.”

Moore grew up on a cattle ranch in Colorado, then spent her teenage years helping her parents run an orphanage in equatorial Brazil as she completed her education via correspondence coursework. In childhood, Moore struggled with allergies and asthma, but eventually outgrew the conditions. As an adult, Moore enjoyed a healthy and active lifestyle that has long included pursuits like horseback riding and hunting. She also possessed the stamina to run a busy ENT practice with her husband, Dr. Gary Moore, while raising three children.  

However, a routine procedure in 2021 would go on to reveal a formidable, life-altering threat: appendiceal cancer. 

“I woke up in a hospital bed. I expected to be in a recovery room and going home from a simple hysterectomy, and I was more sedated than I had anticipated,” she recalled. “My doctor came in and said they found the unexpected. They thought it was just benign disease, but instead it was stage IV cancer.”

Despite the staggering diagnosis, Moore continued to see patients at her practice over the course of her own treatment and recovery. 

“She underwent major surgery, followed by three months of chemotherapy. After that she had a second major operation,” Richards said. “Iris is a true fighter…during this very stressful period, she was more concerned about the welfare of her patients and her family than her own well-being.”

As a patient, Moore said she trusted the expertise of her medical team, which included physicians Carolyn Maud Doherty, Niyati Nadkarni, Robert Langdon, Jason Foster, Paul Kolkman, and Kathryn Wildy. 

“The fact is, I had minimal knowledge about appendiceal cancer,” Moore conceded. “There is so much to know, there is so much we don’t know. But you have to realize someone has much more knowledge about a specific area than you do. I mean, I have a lot more knowledge about (otolaryngology) than they do. When people come to me, they expect me to know what I’m talking about, and to do the right thing for them. And that’s what I expected of the people that I went to.”

Moore also expressed confidence that she’d receive quality care close to home. 

“I talked to those who had a reputation of listening and deep knowledge of the problem. Fortunately, in Omaha, we have more of those people than in most other areas of the country, of the world,” she said. “Omaha has really high quality medicine. I’ve talked with friends from other areas, colleagues from different states who had patients go to different locations, and to try and find care for them there was difficult…I had exceptionally good care from everyone I encountered.”

The care was so exceptional, Moore added, that she questioned at times whether it might have been because medical personnel knew she was an area physician. 

“I would hope that they would give everyone that care,” she said. 

Recovery has been gradual, but Moore is starting to more fully return to the activities she loves. Only a few years before her cancer diagnosis, Moore was quoted in an Omaha Magazine article declaring: “I just don’t quit. That’s probably the best advice I can give—whether someone’s starting out or barely hanging on.” 

While Moore’s late-stage cancer diagnosis proved a shocking revelation, her conduct and demeanor over the difficult months to follow crystalized what many in the Omaha community had glimpsed before—an indomitable spirit, equal parts compassionate and unyielding. 
“That is kind of my attitude for life,” she said. “And if you just keep trying, first of all, everyone else is more willing to help you. Usually, if you keep trying—and sometimes you have to alter your path a little—you usually will succeed.”

“It becomes very obvious that when Iris decides to do something, nothing will get in her way,” Richards affirmed. “What struck me about Iris is her determination with everything she does. It is who she is.” 

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2023 issue of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.  
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