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Anthony Demidio: Fighting Colorectal Cancer Through a Lifesaving Clinical Trial

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“Fox Chase didn’t just save my life—they saved my brother’s, too. We wound up in the same clinical trial, and now we’re both here—both cancer free and without colostomy bags!”

— Anthony Demidio

I’m 62 and I live in Bristol, Pa., with my wife Maryann. Between the two of us, we have four children and eight grandchildren (with another on the way). I also have a large extended family, and I work full time as a contractor. Needless to say, I’m a pretty busy guy!

An Unexpected Diagnosis

I found out that I had cancer after a long-overdue colonoscopy. In February 2019, my wife finally convinced me to get one done. When the results came back, I found out that I had colorectal cancer (specifically rectal cancer).

Based on where it was located and the fact that it was between stages I and II, the doctor I first went to see recommended extensive surgery. However, I wasn’t sure about that option and wanted to get another doctor’s opinion.

Back in 2015, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and went to Fox Chase Cancer Center for treatment. She’s been cancer free ever since, so based on her experience, I decided to go there for a second opinion.

The Fox Chase Difference

Being diagnosed with cancer is scary. You hear the word “cancer”, and you start to panic. In fact, I thought I was going to die. But, when I sat down with Dr. Jeffrey Farma, a surgical oncologist and Chief of the Division of General Surgery at Fox Chase, he and his team made me feel like I was the only person on earth who had cancer. They truly made me feel like I was in good hands. The thing that I appreciated most was that Dr. Farma was very direct and honest about things.

A Life-Saving Clinical Trial

After going over everything with me, Dr. Farma told me about a clinical trial that I was a perfect candidate for. If I enrolled in the trial, I might be able to have my organ function preserved and not need extensive surgery. However, if it didn’t work, I’d have to undergo a more involved surgical procedure and live with a colostomy bag afterward. For me, it was a no-brainer. I decided to enroll in the clinical trial.

The trial protocol started with four months of chemotherapy under the care of Dr. Rishi Jain, a medical oncologist, and then an operation to locally remove the cancer. About a month after that, I went through six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation under the direction of  Dr. Jain and Dr. Joshua Meyer, a radiation oncologist. It was a rough road, but it was worth it because it worked!

Family Matters

Fox Chase didn’t just save my life—they saved my brother’s, too.

I have four brothers, so as soon as I received my diagnosis, I insisted that they all go get colonoscopies. My oldest brother was diagnosed with the same cancer in the same location as I had, so I talked him into going to Fox Chase. We wound up in the same clinical trial, and now, we’re both here—both cancer free and without colostomy bags!

Where You Start Matters

The message you hear in the Fox Chase commercials is so true: “Where You Start Matters.” It made a big difference in my care for sure, and I’d tell anyone in my position to start at Fox Chase.

Fox Chase helped me realize that I wasn’t dying of cancer—I was living through it. While undergoing eight months of chemotherapy, radiation, and an operation, I never missed a day of work.

It’s like my 96-year-old uncle says: “When you stop moving, they put dirt on you.” Fox Chase has kept me moving.

Learn more about colorectal cancer treatment at Fox Chase Cancer Center

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