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In August of 2009, 78-year-old Sylvia Meyer called her daughter Jackie complaining of stomach pain and swelling. Jackie knew something was very wrong. ‘She was always healthy and not one to complain,” recalled Jackie. But was the beginning of a frustrating and scary time for Sylvia and her family.
Despite undergoing a battery of tests at two local community hospitals, Sylvia’s condition was still undiagnosed, and her condition deteriorated. She was in and out of the hospital, losing weight, and it had been weeks since she was able to have a bowel movement. Ovarian cancer was mentioned as a possible cause, but no firm treatment plan was set. Jackie decided to take matters into her own hands.
“At Fox Chase, they take you by the hand."
She called her cousin who was treated at Fox Chase Cancer and Penny Fisher, then president of The Marlyn Fein Chapter of the Fox Chase Cancer Center. “I asked them how hard it was to get in.” Both replied, “At Fox Chase, they take you by the hand, just call, so I did.” A few weeks later, Sylvia and Jackie were sitting in a room with Robert Burger, MD, FACOG, FACS, Director of the Fox Chase Women’s Cancer Center and attending surgeon, gynecologic oncology department.
“Dr. Burger was the one who finally told me what was wrong with me."
“I had been diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer," shared Sylvia. "Although we were devastated, we finally knew what was wrong. I think the man is a genius.” But the news was sobering. “Honestly, we thought this diagnosis was an end game,” recalled Jackie. “We asked, is it treatable? He answered, ‘Treatable? Yes. And in some cases, it’s curable.”
From the very beginning, Jackie felt that Dr. Burger and his team at Fox Chase gave them the ultimate gift of hope. “My mother is a pragmatist, so we wanted to hear it straight,” said Jackie. “If she didn’t have long to live, she didn’t want to go through a lot of surgeries and treatments.”
Sylvia asked Dr. Burger how many months she had to live. “He said 'Months? How about YEARS?'” shared Sylvia. “My daughter and I just looked at each other. We were shocked.”
Sylvia’s health has been restored.
Dr. Burger recommended abdominal surgery and six doses of chemotherapy. Sylvia felt completely confident, especially after he told her “This is the treatment I’d recommend if you were my mother,” said Sylvia. “That was good enough for me.” Always a fighter, and with Dr. Burger’s team in her corner, Sylvia had surgery in early 2010, and finished up her chemotherapy treatment a few months later. As of the fall 2011, all of her follow-up tests have been negative and Sylvia’s health has been restored.
“I feel better now,” said Sylvia, who is proactive with her follow-up appointments. “I go into his office every six months. They treat me like family.”
“Because of Dr. Burger and Fox Chase, we’ve celebrated another Mothers Day in our family.”
“Dr. Burger is such a personable and caring person. His whole staff is amazing. You feel like there’s a team of people taking care of you. After the nightmare we’d been through at the other hospitals, going to Fox Chase was the answer to our prayers.”