Louis Fantacone

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Stomach Cancer Treatment

Stomach (Gastric) Cancer Patient Stories

Stomach Cancer
Louis Fantacone

Lou Fantacone, sporting his Battleship New Jersey jacket

Many people would have a lot to complain about if they walked in Lou Fantacone's shoes. In 1958, while Christmas shopping, Lou's wife was killed in an automobile accident. She was 28 at the time. Lou was left alone to care for his 3 children, ages 2, 5 and 7. Then, later in life, he would face three separate bouts with cancer.

But, says Lou, who worked as a machinist until he retired in 1988: "I've got nothing to complain about. I am blessed with 3 kids -- and a couple grandkids."

Volunteering on the Battleship New Jersey

During his retirement, Lou was diagnosed with kidney cancer and was successfully treated at a Philadelphia hospital. By 2001, Lou could not sit still any more. He began a new career volunteering for the Battleship New Jersey in Camden. "I worked my way up from a docent until I got to work on the ship, which I love," explained Lou. Then, in 2004, Lou began experiencing severe stomach pain.

"I decided to get a second opinion at Fox Chase."

"My doctor sent me to my local hospital for an endoscopy," recalled Lou, who learned the cause of the pain was a tumor on his stomach. "I didn't like the way the doctors at that hospital talked to me. So I decided to get a second opinion at Fox Chase."

Preserving Stomach Function

James Watson, MD, a surgical oncologist who specializes in treating patients with gastrointestinal cancers, met with Lou to review his options. After undergoing clinical staging at Fox Chase, Lou was found to have an early stage cancer which appeared confined to his stomach.

With the guidance of Dr. Watson, Lou opted for a surgical procedure that would remove the cancer (and with it, part of his stomach) and re-attach his stomach so that function would be preserved. In addition to the portion of his stomach that harbored the cancer, 37 negative lymph nodes were removed, confirming that Lou did indeed have an early stage cancer and, best of all, would not require any additional therapy. Within the week after his surgery, Lou had returned home and was back to eating normally.

"Dr. Watson is such a great doctor. He did a wonderful job and I'm feeling well today."

Louis Fantacone

Lou, seated with Helen and his dog, Molly

"People always ask me where to go when they find out they have cancer - I always tell them Fox Chase. I have only good things to say about the hospital."

"Everyone I met at Fox Chase treated me so well."

After his recovery, Lou returned to his volunteer job on the Battleship. He experienced a third bout with cancer, this time prostate. The daily commute for treatment at Fox Chase would have been difficult for Lou, who is in his 80s, so he was treated with daily radiation treatment during an 8 week period at his local hospital.

With all he has been through, Lou still considers himself lucky. He now shares his life with Helen, who was his caretaker when he was sick. "I live with 2 great women! Helen - and my dog Molly!"

"I'm not a rich person, but whenever I can, I donate to Fox Chase. Everything they do is terrific."

By day Lou continues to volunteer, currently on the USS Olympia at Penn's Landing. "It's great because I finally found something older than me!" he jokes.

And every night Lou "thanks God for giving me another day. I'm very thankful for all that I have."