Carolyn Tonic-Robinson

Kidney Cancer Patient Stories

Kidney Cancer
Carolyn Tonic-Robinson

In 2003 Carolyn Tonic-Robinson had a routine colonoscopy.  She was 63 and was working full-time as a Special Education Teacher, turned Guidance Counselor. While she waited for her results of the procedure, Carolyn subconsciously began rubbing her left side. A co-worker asked her if something was hurting her.

Carolyn believed that the uncomfortable sensation was probably a result of the procedure. But she was concerned and called the doctor who performed the procedure as soon as she got home.

The doctor sent Carolyn for a CAT scan that afternoon. By 6:00 pm that same day, Carolyn received a call advising her to make an appointment to see her primary doctor because of a suspicious mass on her left kidney that showed up on the film. During the two years prior to her kidney cancer diagnosis, Carolyn experienced chronic nose bleeds almost daily. However, they stopped as mysteriously as they began – although it was shortly after the cancer was removed.

"Dr. Chen and his staff were wonderful." 

When it came time to select a hospital for treatment, Carolyn recalled Fox Chase Cancer Center’s old television spots that explained, “Cancer is all we do. All day. Everyday." Her decision was made and Carolyn and her family traveled to Fox Chase to meet David Chen, MD, a urologic surgeon who specializes in treating patients with kidney cancer. Dr. Chen recommended surgery to remove the tumor. “Dr. Chen and his staff were wonderful,” shared Carolyn.

Carolyn Tonic-Robinson

Dr. David Chen, urologic surgeon, meets with Carolyn to discuss her progress.

The surgery was a success and Carolyn has been cancer-free ever since. “I have retired from my full-time job and have learned how to relax and enjoy life,” added Carolyn, whose three children and five grandchildren bring pure joy to her life. “When I look back and consider my achievements, I feel successful and very blessed.”

Carolyn spends her time supporting other cancer patients in her community.

Carolyn is keenly aware of the increase of cancer incidence in her community. She recalled the moment she learned she had cancer. “I had so many questions,” she said. “I needed to be informed about my situation and I needed encouragement and assurance that I was going to be okay.” That is why Carolyn wants to give back and help other people confronting cancer. “My goal is to help others, just like they helped me. And if they need help deciding where to go for treatment, I would tell them Fox Chase in a minute!”