Topics in This Section
- Ampullary Cancer
- Anorectal Cancer
- Anal Canal Carcinoma
- Carcinoid Cancer
- Colon Cancer
- Esophageal Cancer
- Gallbladder Cancer
- Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST)
- Liver Cancer (Bile Duct Cancer)
- Neuroendocrine Carcinoma
- Neuroendocrine Cancer of the Spleen
- Sister Mary Joseph's Lymph Node
- Small Bowel Cancer
- Stomach (Gastric) Cancer
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In 2006, Robert Mirkin was feeling as well as an 80-year-old could. He and his wife of more than 50 years were enjoying retirement, exercising and spending time with their growing family. However, a routine test at his gastrointestinal doctor revealed a possible problem. It appeared as though a tumor was growing at the point where Robert's stomach met the esophagus. His doctor sent him right to Fox Chase Cancer Center where specialists had access to more sophisticated diagnostic tools. That is where it was confirmed that Robert had gastric cancer.
"Given my age, I wasn't sure what my treatment options would be."
When Robert arrived at Fox Chase, he learned what "multidisciplinary treatment" meant - a team of doctors from radiation, medical and surgical oncology consulted to evaluate his case. "Given my age, I wasn't sure what my treatment options would be," recalled Robert, who was presented with several choices but also informed of how debilitating stomach cancer treatment can often be for an octogenarian.
James C. Watson, MD, a surgical oncologist at Fox Chase who specializes in the treatment of complex gastrointestinal cancers explained, "The team consulted and determined that the best course for Robert was to undergo surgery as the gold standard of treatment. Our goal was to preserve as much stomach as possible in order to optimize quality of life."
"Dr. Watson informed me that normally he wouldn't hesitate to recommend that my entire stomach be removed given the location and type of cancer," added Robert. "But in my case, an operation that removed less of the stomach might be more appropriate and less risky. It wasn't a difficult choice. I desired the best chance of survival, but also did not want risk my life being rearranged, so I chose surgery."
"I liked Dr. Watson the minute I met him."
"I liked Dr. Watson the minute I met him," admitted Robert. "He is a great doctor and I was very fortunate that he could treat me. I expected to be in more pain after the operation, but Dr. Watson took the right measures to make sure I was pain-free," shared Robert, who was impressed with the care he received in the hospital. "The nurses were terrific. I had no complaints."
Following surgery, Robert's testing showed early stage disease that required no further treatment. He continues to see Dr. Watson for periodic check-ups and is doing well physically.
"Dr. Watson took the right measures to make sure I was pain-free."
"I expected to be in more pain after the operation, but Dr. Watson took the right measures to make sure I was pain-free," shared Robert, who was impressed with the care he received in the hospital. "The nurses were terrific. I had no complaints."
Following surgery, Robert's testing showed no evidence of disease, so further treatment was not required. He continues to see Dr. Watson for periodic check-ups and is doing well physically.
Robert is grateful to be alive and well to enjoy his family.
In January 2009, Robert became a widower when his wife passed away. "We were married for 59 years, and my treatment at Fox Chase resulted in getting to enjoy several more years together. It's not easy, but I continue to keep busy with my kids, grandkids and great-grandchildren." His granddaughter, Erin, drives Robert back and forth to his appointments at Fox Chase. He stays fit physically and mentally by mall walking and reading. "I am doing pretty well," said Robert. "And I'm grateful to the doctors and nurses at Fox Chase who took great care of me."