Topics in This Section
Head and Neck Cancer, Squamous Cell Cancer Patient Stories, Surgical Treatment for Prostate Cancer Patient Stories
He survived cancer not once, but two times. At 50, Bob Devlin says his attitude is simply dealing with what life gives him; then hoping to God all goes well. With Fox Chase Cancer Center and his wife Linda, it did.
In 2004, Bob was diagnosed with squamous cell cancer of the head and neck. "When I found out it was cancer," he said, "I could have died." A mail carrier in Reading, Pa. (previously of Philadelphia), he came to Fox Chase after talking with a woman on his mail route, who survived thyroid cancer. She recommended her surgeon, Dr. John Ridge, at the Philadelphia-based cancer center.
Choosing the Right Doctors
"I don't think I could have asked for a better surgeon for this type of cancer," Bob said. "Dr. Ridge is truthful. He gets right to the point. And he's ranked as a Philadelphia magazine Top Doc," he added.
Bob underwent IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy) following surgery to remove the tumor in his neck.
Linda noted, "Unlike our community hospital physicians, Bob's doctors at Fox Chase see complex cases like these all the time."
Support Beyond Compare
Throughout Bob's ordeal, Linda stood by him - as wife, caregiver and information gatherer. She made phone calls, surfed the Internet and spoke with cancer survivors.
"Patients do not hear what the doctor says in the same way family members do," she pointed out. Bob agreed. "I was in a daze for about a week," he recalled.
One place Linda visited was the Resource and Education Center at Fox Chase. "We had never heard of head and neck cancer before Bob was diagnosed with it," she explained. "The Center has information on all types of cancers."
The Devlins also drew support from the people at Fox Chase. "Bob's nurses kept me together," Linda revealed, referring to the long days they spent at the Center for infusions and radiation treatments.
"Patients need support," Bob stressed. "For me, I don't know if I could have made it without Linda." His nurses also left an impression. "I got extra special care," he said. "It's amazing how many nurses there are to one patient."
The Second Time Around
Bob battled back from head and neck cancer, but his experience didn't stop there. Later the next year came a second blow: prostate cancer. Again, Bob and Linda chose Fox Chase. Linda summed it up, "Fox Chase just feels like family to us. It may be a smaller center, but they have everything here that you need, plus more personal attention."
"This time, I was confused about treatment," Bob admitted. "With all the options available for prostate cancer, I wanted to make the right decision, but I didn't know what that was."
Together with his prostate surgeon, Dr. David Chen, Bob chose nerve-sparing surgery. "Dr. Chen was very on the ball with everything he told me. He was right the first time."
Their experience has led the Devlins to think more about cancer prevention. Linda, who lost her mother to cancer, is a member of the Risk Assessment Program at Fox Chase. And since surviving prostate cancer, Bob wants to encourage his brother to learn more about his risk through Fox Chase's Prostate Cancer Risk Assessment Program.
Giving Back in a Sweet Way
Now cancer-free and doing well, Bob, along with Linda, is giving back. Their first of many fundraisers--selling cakes, brownies and more from Sweet Street Desserts, a Reading-based company--raised more than $7,200 for Fox Chase.
"This is the only way we feel we can have some control over the situation," Linda said. "We don't have millions of dollars, but we can still do something for research. Cancer research finds better treatments; raising money helps that."
The Devlin Fund for Cancer Research
In 2006, Bob and Linda established the Devlin Fund for Cancer Research, and in 2010, it officially became an affiliate of Fox Chase's Board of Associates. Since 2007, they have held an annual golf outing; organize Paws for the Cause, a dog walk at Fox Chase; hold an antique car show; and a Holiday Hope Card Project.