Robert Disciullio

Pancreatic Cancer Patient Stories

Robert Disciullio

Robert Disciullio celebrated his 60th birthday in Atlanta watching the Phillies play the Braves.

Robert Disciullio is a self-confessed baseball nut. "I love my hometown team, the Philadelphia Phillies," he shared. For years, Robert followed the Phillies to cheer them on during games in other cities. In 2004, during a game at Wrigley field in Chicago, Robert took a bad fall in the stands. When he returned to work at the Philadelphia Inquirer the following week, he was still sore from his fall. "Back at work, I was dizzy and short of breath so I went to the doctor who thought I might have kidney stones."

Robert was referred to a gastroenterologist, who evaluated Robert. He was jaundiced and was unable to go to the bathroom for two weeks. He was admitted to a local community hospital, where doctors learned there was a tumor on top of his small intestine. After performing a procedure to remove Robert's gall bladder, the surgeon guessed that Robert had about 18 months to live. "He said there was nothing more he could do for me. He explained that a Whipple procedure might save me, but he couldn't do that surgery."

"Not only does Dr. Watson do Whipples, but he does more than most surgeons in the country."

Robert left the hospital in search of a second opinion. In addition to cancer, Robert also suffered with several side effects caused by his diabetes. "At Fox Chase, I met with James C. Watson, MD, a surgical oncologist who specializes in complex procedures, including the Whipple. Not only does Dr. Watson do Whipples, but he does more than most surgeons in the country. He diagnosed me with stage IV pancreatic adenocarcinoma," recalled Robert. "I thought to myself, 'I'm a dead man,' but Dr. Watson had a plan."

"Surgery was Robert's only chance to beat his cancer."

"Robert's case was complicated due to his medical history," shared Dr. Watson. "Surgery was Robert's only chance to beat his cancer." During a Whipple procedure, Dr. Watson removed the head of the pancreas, a portion of the bile duct, the gallbladder and the duodenum. Next, he reconnected the remaining pancreas and bile duct back to the intestine in order to preserve function of the pancreas.

Surrounding the treatment for his pancreatic cancer, Robert dropped from 239 to 124 pounds. "My wife is Italian - and a great cook. Once I felt better, I could enjoy her food and I was able to gain weight." Currently at 201 pounds, Robert enjoys himself. "Our kids are grown and we have 6 grandchildren - and lots of pets!" When he's not watching the Phillies or Eagles, Robert rescues cats - over 47 to date.

"Dr. Watson is amazing. I love the guy."

"Dr. Watson is amazing. I love the guy," shared Robert. "I got the chance to see the Phillies win a World Series and make it to another one. At this point, I'm not about to get rid of my season tickets, except perhaps to Dr. Watson, whom I routinely see and talk baseball. I count my blessings that I elected to get that second opinion more than five years ago."