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In August 2006, Kenneth Kittel was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx at a large university teaching hospital in Philadelphia, over an hour from his home. He was recommended radiation therapy. At over 300 pounds, Kenneth was told he was too heavy to be treated at the university hospital.
"The doctors at the other hospital were ready to give up."
"The doctors at the other hospital were ready to give up and offer no more treatment," recalled Kenneth's wife, Mary, who was very disappointed. She decided to bring her husband to Fox Chase Cancer Center for a second opinion where the Kittels met a team of radiation oncologists with expertise in treating patients with head and neck cancers.
"At Fox Chase, they treated us fabulously," Mary said. "There were no issues with my husband's weight, so treatment started right away."
Although transport staff may not act as an "official" part of the treatment team, their support meant the world to the Kittels. Transport orderly, Chris Davis, arranged to reserve a handicapped spot for Kenneth and Mary for each appointment.
"Chris is such a special person and made every visit to Fox Chase a nice one."
"Chris always met us with a wheelchair," shared Mary, who walks with 2 canes. "He gives us a great hug every time we see him. Chris is such a special person and made every visit to Fox Chase a nice one."
In the spring of 2009, Kenneth began experiencing aspiration - trouble breathing and swallowing food. Kenneth met with Miriam Lango, MD, an oncologic surgeon at Fox Chase who also specializes in treating patients with head and neck cancers.
The Kittels felt an immediate connection to Dr. Lango.
The Kittels felt an immediate connection to Dr. Lango, who ordered several tests. The results showed that Kenneth had scar tissue from his first surgery that was causing these problems. She performed a minimally invasive procedure to remove the scar tissue. This created more space to make it easier to breathe. There were no external incisions and Kenneth went home the day after the procedure. The Kittels know that the scar tissue may reform, and a tracheotomy, or opening in the windpipe, to bypass the scar tissue in the voice box, may ultimately be necessary.
"We've met a lot of nurses during my treatment," said Kenneth. "None compared to the fantastic nurses at Fox Chase. When I stayed overnight after my surgery, the most attentive nurses cared for me during every shift."
"If anyone asks where to go for cancer care, I would tell them to RUN, not walk, to Fox Chase!"
With periodic check-ups, Kenneth is doing well. His wife explained, "If anyone asks where to go for cancer care, I would tell them to RUN, not walk, to Fox Chase!"