Andrew Swider

Kidney Cancer Patient Stories

Advanced Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma
Andrew Swider

Andrew and his wife, Margo

A Vietnam veteran with experience on the battlefront, Andrew Swider knows one thing for sure. “There’s nobody I’d rather have in the foxhole with me than Dr. Kutikov.”

Andy, who along with an estimated 2.4 million American soldiers was exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, recalled the denseness of the defoliant spray. “It would look like it was snowing,” said the 69-year-old retired stock trader for Morgan Stanley who served as a field radio operator during the war deployed in Pleiku, central Vietnam. “I was concerned about the long term effects due to the exposure.” In March 2011, Andy went to his local VA Center for an Agent Orange registry exam. “I figured it was just a formality. I was very diligent when it came to my health.”

Andy's doctor recommended he get a second opinion at Fox Chase.

But the tests revealed a spot on his lung. A CAT Scan at his local hospital showed seven nodules in all. The follow-up PET Scan revealed the devastating news. Andy had Stage IV advanced renal cell carcinoma that had metastasized to his kidneys and lungs, along with several tumors on his spine and on the left side of his abdomen. “The local oncologist told me I had no options,” recalled Andy.  “I was facing my mortality." Next, the doctor recommend that he get a second opinion with Dr. Alexander Kutikov, a renowned kidney specialist and surgical oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

A native Philadelphian who was living in Yardley, PA, Andy was familiar with Fox Chase from friends who had been treated there. “I knew Fox Chase had a reputation for comprehensive cancer treatment, prevention and research.” In less than a month, Andy and his family were meeting with Alexander Kutikov, MD. “He had reviewed all of my records and assured us that my diagnosis didn’t mean that death was around the corner.”

Dr. Kutikov had a game plan to prolong Andy’s quality of life. Working with a team that included medical oncologist Elizabeth Plimack, MD, and radiation oncologist Shelly Hayes, MD, Dr. Kutikov lead the charge in monitoring and treating Andy’s cancer.

"Dr. Kutikov put my family at ease with his confidence. He gave us hope."

“Dr. Kutikov put my family at ease with his confidence,” said Andy.  “He answered every question. His professionalism, knowledge, and compassion were overwhelming.  He gave us hope.”

Andy was fast-tracked for cyberknife radiation treatment for the tumor on his spine in April 2011. Fox Chase offers cyberknife at its Buckingham, PA satellite location for radiation therapy. The next day, Dr. Kutikov performed a minimally invasive laparoscopic cytoreductive radical nephrectomy – the removal of Andy’s right kidney and adrenal gland including any surrounding fat.  Andy tolerated the surgery well, and after just three days recovery time he shortly returned to his daily activities.

Close to a year later, in March 2012, Dr. Kutikov removed Andy’s abdominal tumors. “Unbeknownst to me, when he was performing the surgery to remove the four tumors, he discovered a hernia, and called in Fox Chase minimally invasive surgeon Paul Curcillo, MD, to repair it, so I wouldn’t have to have another surgery. This special consideration given to me was truly going above and beyond the call of duty. Dr. Kutikov treated me like I was his only patient, not just a person with a medical condition. He is one extraordinary doctor,” said Swider.

In April 2012, two tumors appeared on his cervical spine and he needed emergency surgery. Through it all, Dr. Kutikov and his team at Fox Chase have been there for him and his family.  “The Fox Chase nursing staff and assistants were absolutely amazing," he added. "I had kind and compassionate care that truly helped me maintain a positive attitude. Dr. Kutikov gave me a second chance on life. I embrace every moment I now spend with my family and keep Dr. Kutikov in my prayers so that he can continue to use his specialized skills in healing other cancer patients.”