GIST Patient Stories
"On October 29, 2012, I thought I had a bad case of the flu. I had slight pains on the right side and was really tired. I decided to go to the local hospital for a checkup and that’s when everything in my world started to change. I ended up with emergency surgery that day for an appendectomy. Afterwards my surgeon, Dr. Carlos Villarreal, and my best friend, Dr. Richard Bindie, told me that if I had waited a couple more hours I would have been dead. Dr.
In the summer of 1974, at the young age of 19, Ray Beckler developed severe hemorrhoids. His family doctor took one look and sent him to a surgeon. For years post surgery Ray's symptoms remained.
"The bleeding never stopped. I'd have fecal occult tests, but the blood was always attributed to an internal hemorrhoid based on a sigmoidoscopy," Ray explains. To improve his digestive health, Ray limited meat and potatoes and introduced more fish, fresh vegetables, whole grains, low fat and fresh fruit into his diet . . . (and a little ice cream!).
Maria Bento and her husband, Jose, left Portugal in 1973 and moved to America - the land of opportunity. Once here, they built both a close-knit family and a successful construction business in Philadelphia. Maria, a strong-willed woman, has learned many lessons over the years. Most importantly, to trust her gut and to question the decisions of others. That lesson might have saved her life.
Clinical trials at institutions like Fox Chase often provide access to life-saving treatments before they receive FDA approval and become widely available. As in the case of Gleevec®, patients like Ben Van Horn were only able to receive this drug from an institution offering the trial, including Fox Chase. Ben and his doctors attribute his long term survival to his participation in the clinical study.
In the spring of 1949, Tania Stutman entered the world in Haifa, Israel. Her mother was a Holocaust survivor who escaped to Israel. Tania spent much of her childhood in Romania before she immigrated to America. “Our family has had our share of difficulties,” recalls Tania, who lost her sister in 1985 when an Arrow Air plane crashed in Gender, Newfoundland, on its way back to the U.S. So when she learned she had cancer, Tania approached it as just another challenge.