Although Nancy Finnegan lives in Florida, she often visits with family and friends in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. While up north visiting her sisters in 2001, Nancy went to her doctor with complaints of a lingering cold and lots of bruising. After blood tests, an ultra sound and a bone marrow biopsy, she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL).
Nancy received chemotherapy in a suburban Philadelphia hospital, which was temporarily successful. Just 18 months later, in 2003, the NHL was active again. This time Nancy went to New York to see a lymphoma specialist who recommended an alternative chemotherapy regimen. "After 8 treatments, I was feeling great!" explained Nancy.
The following year, Nancy spotted blood in her urine. After much testing, Nancy was diagnosed with transitional cell carcinoma. Her urologist recommended she see Dr. Robert Uzzo, a surgical oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center, who could perform the surgery laparoscopically.
"My doctor said Dr. Uzzo was one of the top kidney surgeons in the country."
"My doctor said Dr. Uzzo was one of the top kidney surgeons in the country, said Nancy. "After meeting Dr. Uzzo, his manner gave me the confidence to have him remove my right kidney in the fall."
"Although I have to fly to Philadelphia from Florida for every appointment, Dr. Uzzo is worth the trip!"
Due to Nancy's positive experience at Fox Chase, she decided to remain a patient of Dr. Uzzo's, although she lived in Florida. "I flew back from Florida in early 2005 for follow-up tests. Although I have to fly to Philadelphia from Florida for every appointment, Dr. Uzzo is worth the trip!" explained Nancy.
Unfortunately, these tests confirmed the cancer had spread to Nancy's bladder. Dr. Uzzo treated her bladder cancer continuously that year using non-surgical treatments to attack the cancer. Nancy explained, "Dr. Uzzo and his staff were always positive and so caring. Unfortunately, the cancer persisted and my bladder was removed."
"The nursing staff displayed so much kindness and attention!"
"Although this was a much more severe operation, it was made more tolerable by the nursing staff who displayed so much kindness and attention!" Nancy said. Nancy was surprised that the staff remembered her from the first stay 18 months earlier. She explained, "That's because so many of the staff are dedicated and stay with Fox Chase. Their positive attitude helps you over the bumps!"
"I have quite a bit of respect for Dr. David Fish, an anesthesiologist at Fox Chase."
"Most surgical patients don't get the opportunity to meet their anesthesiologist. That is not the case at Fox Chase. I have quite a bit of respect for Dr. David Fish at Fox Chase. He is very hands-on and takes a personal interest in each patient. I requested Dr. Fish for my second surgery and although he was booked, he rearranged his schedule to be there for me!" she said.
During this time, Nancy was also under the watchful eye of Dr. Gary Hudes, a medical oncologist at Fox Chase, who coordinated Nancy's care. "While we were in one of my meetings in December 2007, Dr. Hudes reviewed my blood work to learn that the lymphoma was back again! His colleague, Dr. Mitchell Smith, saw me later that day, even though I did not have an appointment," explained Nancy.
"I found the staff in the infusion room to be so upbeat and attentive."
Nancy spent Christmas in Florida and returned to Philadelphia to begin additional treatment. "I found the staff in the infusion room to be so upbeat and attentive. That really helps in keeping a positive attitude," said Nancy.
Nancy remains under Dr. Smith's care. "I have no worries and feel I am in good hands of talented professionals who really do care about me, remember me and treat me like a person instead of a number," Nancy explained.
Today, Nancy feels, "blessed to be alive, healthy and in such capable hands. My positive outlook is partly due to the dedicated staff at Fox Chase, as well as my wonderful family and friends. Their support mentally and physically is so important. Having them along for appointments and treatments and waking up to see their faces after surgery is so comforting and invaluable!" she concluded.