Deborah Dahl

Risk Assessment Program Breast Cancer Patient Stories, Colon Cancer Patient Stories, Liver Cancer (Bile Duct Cancer) Patient Stories

Deborah Dahl

Deborah Dahl

When Deborah Dahl recalls being in her late 20s and single in 1992, it's probably not what you would expect. After experiencing stomach pains, she went to her doctor, who ordered a colonoscopy.

The colonoscopy results were alarming. At the young age of 29, Deborah had colon cancer.

She had the cancer surgically removed at her local hospital. Unfortunately, during the surgery, doctors found the cancer had spread to her liver.

"After the surgery, a family friend told us about Fox Chase Cancer Center's stellar reputation in treating cancer that metastasized to the liver. We made an appointment with Dr. John Hoffman, a surgical oncologist who was well-known for his expertise in liver resection."

"As soon as we met Dr. Hoffman and the team of doctors, we knew we were in good hands."

Deb recalled, "My parents and I were terrified to learn the cancer had spread. As soon as we met Dr. Hoffman and the team of doctors, we knew we were in good hands."

While chemotherapy was initially recommended, Dr. Hoffman determined that her cancer was operable. After the successful surgery to remove part of Deb's liver, Dr. Hoffman explained that chemotherapy was not going to be necessary.

"You can't imagine how relieved I was to hear that Dr. Hoffman was able to safely remove the cancer and I wouldn't need chemotherapy!"

Deb explained, "I felt so lucky. There were no side effects and I could go on with my life."

Deb worked for DuPont in Delaware and was able to return to work after a 6-month leave. Several years later, she got married and relocated to Tennessee, where she currently resides with her husband and 2 sons.

"Now I am 44 and live life to the fullest."

"I have no restrictions. I go to the gym, the beach, run and even took up road bicycling. We are a very active family."

"At times, I feel like I never had cancer."

Deb shared, "I often feel guilty when I hear stories from other people. I was very fortunate. Dr. Hoffman really saved my life and for that, I am ever grateful to him."

Unaware that colorectal cancer ran in her family.

Deb was not aware of her family history of colon cancer until several years after her treatment. Her mother was diagnosed with the disease and passed away in 2003. Her father died 4 weeks later. He had lung cancer.

Deb later learned that her grandmother lost her life to rectal cancer. She recalled, "Their generation didn't talk about cancer. I never knew that it ran so strongly in my family until years after I was diagnosed."

Genetic Counseling and Testing

Deb gets an annual colonoscopy and went through genetic counseling and testing. Knowing that colon cancer is hereditary, she will educate her sons about the importance of genetic counseling and screening when they get older.