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Ginny Ingaran isn’t a woman to take no for an answer. When her husband Ray was first diagnosed with cancer in 1992, he was a 52-year-old firefighter in Philadelphia. “Fox Chase Cancer Center wasn’t in his network, so we had to go to our local hospital,” she recalled. What was diagnosed as prostate cancer turned out to be a large abdominal mass. The surgery didn’t go well, the tumor broke apart and Ray lost a lot of blood, along with part of his colon.
Ray's wife, Ginny, was determined for Ray to get treated at Fox Chase.
“I knew he wasn’t going back there,” she said. Ginny went directly to the Philadelphia Fire Fighters' and Paramedics' Union to make a case for Ray needing to go to Fox Chase Cancer Center. “It took a year to overturn the decision, but they finally approved,” she recalled.
In 1993, the Ingarans began a long-term relationship with Fox Chase. In addition to managing symptoms of cancer, Ray also dealt with the effects of Agent Orange, which he was exposed to when he served in the military. A year after the initial surgery, he was strong enough for round two. Ray's surgical team, led by Richard E. Greenberg, MD, FACS, Chief, Urologic Oncology and John P. Hoffman, MD, FACS, Chief, Pancreaticobiliary Service, removed his prostate, bladder and colon, leaving Ray with a ureterostomy and colostomy. "It was a very difficult procedure but I was in good hands," said Ray.
“At that point, Ray was only 53, but had to retire – he couldn’t work anymore,” recalled Ginny, who has worked on the administrative side of medical practices for years.
Over the years, Ray has had liver and kidney cancer and one kidney removed, leiomyosarcoma, a mass on his coccyx bone, and in 2013, a small tumor on his remaining kidney, which was removed using robotic-assisted surgery by David Y.T. Chen, MD, FACS, a urologic surgeon and member of the genitourinary cancer treatment team. Margaret von Mehren, MD, director of the Fox Chase Sarcoma Program, and James C. Watson, MD, FACS, a surgical oncologist who specializes in treating gastrointestinal cancers and sarcomas, have also cared for Ray and continue to monitor his conditions.
"The physicians and nurses at Fox Chase are wonderful."
Ginny was grateful to the compassion they showed toward her husband. "The physicians and nurses at Fox Chase are wonderful," she said.
Through it all, Ginny stood by Ray's side. In 2014, the couple will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary (Ginny will be 70, Ray will be 74). While the Ingaran's lived in Florida for a few years, she went to bat for Ray again, this time to secure his 100 percent disability benefits and medical insurance through Veterans Affairs (VA). That fight took another year, but the result was well worth it, giving Ray and Ginny much needed peace of mind and freedom from worry.
"If it wasn’t for Fox Chase I don’t know what we’d do."
“In all the years we’ve been with Fox Chase, we’ve never had a single problem,” said Ginny. “We go in there – honestly, we know everybody. Even the maintenance staff – it’s like a family. We’re planning move from New Jersey to an apartment near Fox Chase. It’s closer to our kids, and just as important, it’s closer to the community of doctors who take care of Ray. If it wasn’t for Fox Chase I don’t know what we’d do.”