Topics in This Section
Learn More About
At each of the 13 races she's run since 2010, Mary Marczely always races to cross the finish line. The contest that meant the most to her was the race against the cancer she was diagnosed with in August 2010.
Mary, a busy mother of two sons, who were age two and four at the time of her diagnosis, started experiencing an odd tingling sensation in her left calf and foot. The discomfort grew into pain and numbness.
“I showed my sister-in-law what looked like an indentation in my leg,” she recalled. “She’s a nurse and I’m a pharmacist, and we both knew something wasn’t right.” Mary went to her local dermatologist, who confirmed that the lesion was suspect and took a biopsy. The diagnosis, a soft tissue sarcoma, was never something she expected to hear.
“I was feeling scared and panicked,” she remembered. Mary reached out to physician colleagues at her company and one suggested she consult Jeffrey M. Farma, MD, FACS, a surgical oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center who specializes in treating patients with sarcoma.
"As soon as I called Dr. Farma’s office, I could feel the warmth and compassion of Fox Chase."
“As soon as I called Dr. Farma’s office, I could feel the warmth and compassion of Fox Chase. Everyone I spoke to was wonderful," said Mary, who was given an appointment immediately. Mary and her husband, Joe, drove the hour and a half from their home in West Grove, Pennsylvania, to Fox Chase where they spent several hours with Dr. Farma and his team.
“Dr. Farma was very patient with us," said Mary. "He didn’t rush us and answered all of our questions thoroughly. He told me that it was likely that surgery would be enough to treat me.” Although she felt confident in her Fox Chase team, Mary was still feeling stressed due to the fact that her gynecologist had recently discovered a lump on her breast. When she shared this with Dr. Farma, he immediately ordered additional tests, scans and a breast biopsy, which fortunately turned out to be negative. "He was so thorough. I knew I was in the best hands."
Three weeks after her diagnosis, Dr. Farma performed a wide excision surgery on Mary’s leg to remove the soft tissue sarcoma, a visible lesion along the side of her leg, along with skin and muscle that surrounded it. After a brief stay in the hospital, Mary went home to recover. She recalled the following Saturday night, her phone rang. It was Dr. Farma.
Dr. Farma called from a conference to share the good news.
"Even though he was away at a conference, Dr. Farma went above and beyond and called me at 8:00 pm to tell me the surgery was successful," Mary explained. "I can’t tell you how happy we were to receive his call.”
“I’m extremely fortunate to have such loving and supportive family and friends who were there to help me through the recovery,” recalled Mary, who continued to experience leg pain for the next year. Her children were very little and she needed help after the surgery. "Dr. Farma encouraged me to stay active and keep the blood flowing in my leg, which felt very tight all around the scar area.” Mary kept pushing herself at the gym and eventually she started running and biking to build strength and muscle tone. In May of 2013, Mary completed the 10-mile Broad Street Run in Philadelphia, followed by the Bird-in-Hand half marathon near Lancaster County in September. She and her family are extremely proud of this accomplishment.
"Facing cancer isn’t a choice anyone wants to make, but for me, having Dr. Farma and Fox Chase on my team has made all the difference."
“I would recommend Fox Chase to anyone,” she said. "Facing cancer isn’t a choice anyone wants to make, but for me, having Dr. Farma and Fox Chase on my team has made all the difference."