Stephen 'Alan' Dewees
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At 81 years old, Stephen 'Alan' Dewees admits he is pretty laid back. He enjoys traveling with his wife and friends, and simply enjoying life. But, when it came to addressing a lump that he discovered on his back four years ago, he was anything but passive. A swift treatment plan under the direction of a Fox Chase Cancer Center surgeon has provided Alan the opportunity to enjoy life to the fullest.
In the fall of 2006, at the age of 76, Alan rolled over in bed and felt what he thought might have been a bed spring poking him in his back. He knew right away that he had to have the lump (which appeared to be the culprit) checked out as soon as possible. The next day he made an appointment with his family doctor who sent him to a local hospital for a biopsy of the affected area on his right flank. The biopsy revealed he had a rare (less than 10,000 cases reported in the U.S. each year) form of cancer known as a leiomyosarcoma which is a form of soft tissue sarcoma.
"I really liked Dr. Watson from the beginning because he was honest and direct."
Alan's doctors referred him to Fox Chase Cancer Center where he met with a surgeon who specializes in these rare tumors, James C. Watson, MD. "I really liked Dr. Watson from the beginning because he was honest and direct," said Alan. "He told me the way things were and advised me on the best approach to beat the cancer. As a result, I felt well informed and knew I was in good hands."
The radiation helped reduce the size of the tumor so that it could be more easily surgically removed.
Prior to undergoing surgery to remove the cancer, Dr. Watson advised a round of radiation therapy to shrink Alan's high-grade tumor which was more than 5 cm in greatest dimension at presentation. This resulted in a 40 percent reduction in tumor size, and surgery was then successful in completely removing it. Approximately 6 months after Alan's surgery, surveillance studies revealed another new mass at the top of his left lung which proved to represent a site of sarcoma spread. Alan lived near a Fox Chase Cancer Center Partner hospital, Paoli Memorial Hospital, and decided it would be more convenient to have his surgery there to remove the tumor.
"I just try to enjoy life as much as I can every day now that I'm cancer-free."
Since his last surgery in 2008, Alan has remained free of any sign of cancer recurrence. "I'm thankful to be alive, and I'm thankful for the care I received at Fox Chase Cancer Center and at Paoli," said Alan. "I am blessed with 4 daughters, 4 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. In addition, I have a wife and friends with whom I enjoy traveling. I really just try to enjoy life as much as I can every day now that I'm cancer-free."
Alan's parting advice to anyone reading his testimonial is: "If you suspect something is wrong, don't wait around to have it checked out. Look to professionals, like those at Fox Chase, who deal with what you are concerned about every day so you can move forward and take care of the problem quickly and appropriately. Then you can get back to living your life without worries."