Warren Chambers - Patient Story

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"I am here today due to the talents of the doctors at Fox Chase Cancer Center."

— Warren Chambers

My body’s call for medical attention came on a seemingly normal morning in 2007, when I experienced extreme difficulty swallowing after completing my regular workout routine. I had an uneasy feeling about the strange sensation, but I delayed pursuing a doctor’s help until the next day, when I finally decided to go to the emergency room at a local hospital. The emergency room doctor found a large growth in my stomach and recommended that I seek a facility that was able to handle a tumor of that type and size. I was shocked that I could be living with something and not know. I was able to run five miles the previous day with no issues.

Following the advice of my friends and colleagues in the medical field, I decided to get a biopsy at Fox Chase, where I met with Margaret von Mehren, MD, a medical oncologist. She diagnosed my condition as a late-stage metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), which is a relatively rare cancer. The tumor was about the size of a cantaloupe, and the cancer had spread to my liver.

I had had no pain or discomfort prior to the diagnosis, other than the sudden problem with swallowing that had prompted my trip to the emergency room. Dr. von Mehren and her team developed my treatment plan—six months of oral chemotherapy to shrink the tumor followed by surgery to remove the remaining tumor.

By the end of the six months of chemotherapy, my tumor had shrunk to the size of a golf ball and I was ready for surgery. In the fall of 2008, the tumor was removed without any significant damage to the surrounding stomach area and used radiofrequency-generated heat to destroy the tumor on my liver. I then enrolled in a clinical trial that was evaluating whether the drug Gleevec could help prevent a recurrence of the cancer.

Three years later, my doctors diagnosed another small tumor that required surgery. During that delicate procedure, the surgeon removed large parts of my lower and upper intestines and reconstructed my colon. The surgery was successful, and I was on my road to recovery once again.

Before I came to Fox Chase, I had started manufacturing a line of magnesium-sulfate products, which can reduce the inflammation caused by cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation for many people. Professional football, basketball, and hockey teams, including the Flyers and 76ers, had begun using my line of magnesium sulfate crystals, creams and sprays. When I was at my worst point health-wise, the teams remained loyal customers, helping me keep my business afloat while I battled cancer.

During my treatment, and particularly after the surgery in 2011, I had inflammation and pain through my entire body, as well as kidney issues from increasing dosages of chemotherapy. I was able to relieve those side effects of chemotherapy by soaking in a warm bath with magnesium sulfate crystals.

I also exercised throughout all of my treatments. Once I came out of surgery, I was up and walking around and made sure to do that with each one of my surgeries. I make sure that I eat a proper diet, and I don’t smoke or drink. Those things have kept me strong mentally and physically. It is not just up to the doctor to heal you; you have to participate yourself.

I am living proof that Fox Chase is the best place to go when you have cancer. Because Fox Chase doctors specialize in cancer, they understand and are aware of the newest and best treatment options. In my opinion, Fox Chase is number one in research and in developing modalities to keep people alive. Today, I take three pills of Gleevec each day, and I return to Fox Chase every six months to see my oncologist and once a year to see my surgeon.

Cancer came with some major but necessary changes in my body: I am living today with about half of my stomach, lower and upper intestines, and colon. Despite this, I feel perfectly fine, and can carry on with my normal life. I am here today due to the talents of the doctors at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

Since my successful treatment at Fox Chase, I continue to be involved with the work of the institution. I have done voice overs, speaking engagements, articles, and editorials for Fox Chase. I contribute in whatever ways I can to help people realize that they don’t have to give up just because they have cancer. 

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