Richard Bellis

Colon Cancer Patient Stories

Colon Cancer with Metastasis to the Liver
Richard Bellis

In the fall of 1999 a routine colonoscopy detected polyps on Richard Bellis' colon followed by a biopsy of the polyps. The result? Richard had colon cancer.

Living in New Jersey, Richard went to a local hospital for surgery. He recovered nicely and went on with his life. He continued to have regular checkups, including cancer screening, under the direction of his family physician.

In 2006, during a routine test, doctors found the cancer had returned. It had spread to Richard's liver.

According to Richard, "I had no symptoms. If it weren't for the regular testing, I would not have known the cancer was back and immediate medical action was called for."

Richard looked for a hospital that specialized in cancer.

This time, Richard decided to go to a hospital that specialized in treating cancer. Both his family physician and oncologist recommended that he meet with Dr. John Hoffman, a surgical oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

"I agreed with my doctors. Fox Chase was the best place for me."

Richard said, "From my first vist to Fox Chase, everything went so well that I immediately felt assured that I had made the right choice by going there for treatment."

After reviewing Richard's case, Dr. Hoffman believed that the best chance for successful surgery was to, first, reduce the tumor size. He recommended that Richard begin his treatment with a program of chemotherapy for 6 months.

"Dr. Hoffman spent a good amount of time answering all of our questions."

"Dr. Hoffman spent a good amount of time with my wife, Joan, and me answering all of our questions." said Richard. "The best part was that Dr. Hoffman arranged for me to get my chemotherapy from my oncologist close to our home, saving me countless hours of travel. Dr. Hoffman was managing my care and seeing me regularly throughout the 6 month course of chemotherapy," Richard recalled.

After 6 months, Dr. Hoffman was pleased with Richard's progress and the surgery was scheduled. Because Richard was going to require a large resection, it was suggested that he have portal vein embolization, a technique, performed by the interventional radiologist, that is used to grow the remaining healthy liver.

Less than a month later, Richard was admitted to Fox Chase for liver resection surgery - which was successful. "There's no hiding that I'm a big fan of Dr. Hoffman. No question about that! He saved my life."

"The nursing care was flawless. Fox Chase is a super place to be."

"My wife and I were amazed at the quality of the staff at Fox Chase. They were helpful, happy and went out of their way to help us in every way possible. The nursing care was flawless," said Richard. "If you have to have something done, Fox Chase is a super place to be," he continued. It might sound strange, but I really enjoyed going to Fox Chase for my appointments."

Not only did Richard's wife, Joan, stand by his side throughout his treatment, she has been married to Richard for 53 years.

"I couldn't have done this without Joan's support. She accompanied me to every appointment, asked the right questions and took great care of me. Our 2 children, who live nearby were also a wonderful help to both of us."

During his career, Richard worked for the State of New Jersey in the Department of Environmental Protection as Assistant Director of the Division of Water Resources. Since his retirement Richard and Joan have enjoyed sailing and extensive travel. They continue to maintain their home.

"Since fighting cancer (and growing older), some of my jobs around the house take me a little longer to do than they used to but I still get them done!" said Richard.

"The message I want to pass along is for people to follow their doctor's recommended accepted screenings."

He summed it up, "The message I want to pass along is for people to follow their doctor's recommended accepted screenings, such as colonoscopy and blood tests. If you are not satisfied that you are being properly screened, then ask for it to be done. It can well turn out to be a matter of life or death. Remember, too, that when medical action is indicated, Fox Chase does it well."