Gastrointestinal Cancers

Ampullary Cancer Patient Stories

  • Anna Marchese

    Anna Marchese

    In early 2005, 88-year-old Anna Marchese experienced a funny feeling around her waist before passing out on her way to bed. Although she woke up right away, her son, Pat, insisted on taking her to the hospital. Anna had been a widow for almost 30 years and felt fortunate to have her son living with her.

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Anorectal Cancer Patient Stories

  • Thomas Donnelly

    Thomas Donnelly

    Metastatic Rectal Cancer

    In the summer of 2010, Thomas Donnelly was thoroughly enjoying life. He was 38 years old, his career was thriving and he was about to start an M.B.A. program. Tom was also involved with charity and volunteer work. “I left teaching in 2005 to start a web development company. Although it was a great experience, in 2008 a friend who owned an HVAC business asked me to do account management and sales for him. It was a wonderful opportunity to work for a fantastic company.” Almost immediately chronic fatigue set in which Tom couldn’t explain. Assuming he was working too much, Tom ignored the weakness and fatigue for two years. Then, during a motorcycle trip to New York Tom experienced excruciating genital and rectal pain that he could not ignore. Tom’s doctor originally diagnosed him with hemorrhoids, but to be safe, he ordered a colonoscopy. “I didn’t drink or smoke. I was healthy and happy, but the pain was destroying the quality of my life,” he said. What Tom didn’t know was that he had cancer growing inside.

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Carcinoid Cancer Patient Stories

  • Frances Hatalovsky

    Frances Hatalovsky

    At 74 years old most people have eased into retirement, or are at least thinking about doing so. Not Fran Hatalovsky. In fact, when she was told by her Fox Chase Cancer Center surgeon that carcinoid cancer had spread throughout her body, her main concern was whether she'd be able to return to work. Her surgeon assured her that he would do everything in his power to make it happen. Just 2 months after her surgeon performed a very complex procedure to remove the cancerous tissue that affected Fran's colon, small intestine, ovaries and liver, she was able to return to work and couldn't have been more pleased.

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Colon Cancer Patient Stories

  • Maria Carosella

    Maria Carosella

    Colon Cancer with Metastasis to the Lung

    "I'll never forget the day I was diagnosed with colon cancer. It was February 14, 2002 - my husband's birthday," recalled Maria Carosella. She asked her doctor to perform a colonoscopy because she had been symptomatic for quite some time.

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Duodenal Carcinoma Patient Stories

  • Harvey Goodman

    Harvey Goodman

    Duodenal Carcinoma

    Harvey Goodman was in shock. He had just heard from his oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center that he had an incurable, rare form of cancer called duodenal carcinoma of the small intestine that had metastasized to his liver.  It was stage 4.

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Esophageal Cancer Patient Stories

  • Marlin Beach

    Marlin Beach

    In 2007, for the first time in his life, Marlin Beach had trouble eating. During every meal, food would become stuck in this throat. Instead of seeking medical attention, Marlin secretly hoped it would go away. Fortunately, his wife of 35 years, Bonnie, knew it would not disappear on its own. In the spring of 2008, she finally convinced him to go to the doctor. After several rounds of tests, they learned that Marlin's inability to swallow food properly was caused by a malignant tumor on his esophagus.

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Gallbladder Cancer Patient Stories

  • Bruna Cassatta

    Bruna Cassatta

    Lymph-Node Positive Gallbladder Cancer

    "Meraviglioso! Wonderful! The doctors at Fox Chase Cancer Center are meraviglioso!" said Bruna Cassatta, who turned 72 in 2010. Born in Italy, Bruna speaks English with a heavy Italian accent, but the meaning of her words come across crystal clear - she loves Fox Chase Cancer Center.

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Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST) Patient Stories

  • Maria Bento

    Maria Bento

    Maria Bento and her husband, Jose, left Portugal in 1973 and moved to America - the land of opportunity. Once here, they built both a close-knit family and a successful construction business in Philadelphia. Maria, a strong-willed woman, has learned many lessons over the years. Most importantly, to trust her gut and to question the decisions of others. That lesson might have saved her life.

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Liver Cancer (Bile Duct Cancer) Patient Stories

  • Jessica Basciano

    Jessica Basciano

    Primary Liver Cancer

    Jessica Basciano is a proven fighter. At 31 years old and 31 weeks into her pregnancy with her second daughter, doctors discovered a large mass on her liver. After 5 weeks of bed rest, and the delivery of a healthy baby girl, Jessica had an MRI and was diagnosed with an adenoma, or a non-cancerous mass. In August of 2003, Jessica had the mass removed at a well-respected Philadelphia hospital. Shortly afterward, she learned that the mass was cancerous. Jessica had primary liver cancer.

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Neuroendocrine Cancer of the Spleen Patient Stories

  • Margaret Evans

    Margaret Evans

    Neuroendocrine Cancer of the Spleen

    Knowing that family history plays a strong role in a person's risk of developing cancer makes it no surprise to learn that Margaret Evans would develop cancer in her lifetime. Margaret lost a sister and nephew to colon cancer; her father to liver cancer; and her niece to pancreatic cancer.

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Neuroendocrine Carcinoma Patient Stories

  • Barry Dixon

    Barry Dixon

    Neuroendocrine Tumor of the Liver

    In September 2009, Barry Dixon was living and working in South Carolina with his fiancé, Patti, and their baby boy, Robert Phillip. As a maintenance technician for an apartment management firm, Barry performed a lot of physical labor. One day, while helping his cousin move, Barry thought he pulled something in his abdominal area. He went to the doctor on a Friday, who ordered further testing for the following Monday. But over the weekend, Barry’s pain was unbearable and he was admitted to the Emergency Room at his local hospital where he learned he had a tumor in his liver.

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Pancreatic Cancer Patient Stories

  • Genevieve Sliker

    Genevieve Sliker

    Although Genevieve Sliker tells other cancer patients to be patient, she doesn’t waste time herself. In October 2010, she discovered a lump on her navel and went to the doctor that same day. Within two days, she had an ultrasound, which was inconclusive. A few days later, Genevieve underwent a CAT Scan. By the time she arrived home from the test, her doctor had left a message to come to her office. That is when Genevieve learned she had a cancerous tumor in her pancreas, just two weeks after her husband’s cousin lost his life to this aggressive disease.

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Sister Mary Joseph's Lymph Node Patient Stories

  • William L. Jefferson

    William L. Jefferson

    William Jefferson, or as his friends refer to him as "Jeff," worked as a splicer for Verizon near his South Jersey home. He enjoyed his job, most of which was spent outdoors. When Jeff retired in 2001, at the age of 58, he was looking forward to spending much of his leisure time outside, whether it be gardening or swimming with his 9 grandchildren.

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Small Bowel Cancer Patient Stories

  • Erma Fitzgerald

    Erma Fitzgerald

    Cancer has come calling three times for Erma Fitzgerald, and 3 times this plucky octogenarian has come out on top.

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Stomach (Gastric) Cancer Patient Stories

  • Louis Fantacone

    Louis Fantacone

    Stomach Cancer

    Many people would have a lot to complain about if they walked in Lou Fantacone's shoes. In 1958, while Christmas shopping, Lou's wife was killed in an automobile accident. She was 28 at the time. Lou was left alone to care for his 3 children, ages 2, 5 and 7. He worked as a machinist until he retired in 1988. "I've got nothing to complain about. I am blessed with 3 kids -- and a couple grandkids," said Lou. When it came time for Lou to deal with a diagnosis of cancer, he kept his word and did not complain.

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