Charles Wormington

Stomach (Gastric) Cancer Patient Stories

Gastric Cancer
Charles Wormington

Doctors don't always make the best patients. But in the case of Dr. Charles Wormington, a specialist in ophthalmic lasers who received his PhD in Biophysics from Johns Hopkins University and his OD degree from the New England College of Optometry, nothing could be further from the truth.

In September 2006, during his busy schedule of seeing patients, lecturing and teaching, Dr. Wormington experienced a strange case of heartburn. Blood work revealed that he was anemic and his family doctor ordered both a colonoscopy and an endoscopy. "As soon as doctors performed the endoscopy, they saw a gastric tumor so large it filled the screen," he recalled.

Dr. Wormington consulted with colleagues, all of whom suggested Fox Chase.

Armed with a diagnosis of gastric cancer, Dr. Wormington consulted his physician colleagues to find out where they'd go for treatment. Fox Chase Cancer Center was the prevailing suggestion. "I did some research, and saw that Dr. Watson, a surgeon, specialized in this area, and that Jonathan D. Cheng, MD, a medical oncologist, had published related research articles," he said. "That was important to me."

At his initial consult, he found Dr. Watson to be straightforward and confident. Dr. Wormington's team of doctors recommended a course of both radiation and chemotherapy designed to shrink the tumor. By January 2007, Dr. Wormington was ready to undergo a total gastrectomy (surgical removal of the stomach).

"I was a total responder to treatment. Dr. Watson was able to safely remove the entire tumor."

"Basically Dr. Watson removed my stomach, and connected my small intestine to my esophagus, forming a small pouch that would allow me to eat very small amounts of food at one time," explained Dr. Wormington. When his pathology report came back, he counted himself blessed. "I was a total responder to treatment," he said. "Dr. Watson was able to safely remove the entire tumor."

Life without a stomach has taken some getting used to. Dr. Wormington receives his nightly nutrition in the form of liquid through a feeding tube (called a J-tube). Since the surgery, he's lost 25 pounds, and now carries 135 pounds on his 5'7" frame. Although his stamina isn't what it was, Dr. Wormington still leads a full life that includes teaching, international travel, family activities, and volunteer work at his church.

"The level of care I received was excellent. Dr. Watson and Dr. Cheng are clearly on top of their game."

Overall, Dr. Wormington feels his results have been the best he could have hoped for. "I appreciated that Dr. Watson didn't pull any punches with me. He was honest with me before surgery, admitting that if the cancer had spread, there was little he could do. Fortunately, that didn't happen. The level of care I received was excellent. Dr. Watson and Dr. Cheng are clearly on top of their game."