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Antonio Pereira - Patient Story

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"I wish I had chosen Fox Chase Cancer Center from the beginning."

— Antonio Pereira, Kidney Cancer Survivor

I was 46 years old in 2005 when my doctor referred me to a gastroenterologist after a routine imaging test detected a spot on my left kidney. The GI doctor ran tests, including a CAT scan, and confirmed that the spot was a growth. After an MRI, a urologist confirmed the diagnosis of kidney cancer and scheduled me for surgery.

During surgery, the urologist intended to remove just the tumor but instead decided to remove my entire left kidney. At a follow-up appointment a week later, I was disappointed when he gave me the ‘brush-off.’ He was not particularly kind and would not answer my questions. I felt he was being evasive, so I decided right then that I needed to find another doctor. I asked my primary care physician for a referral to a different urologist.

My new urologist closely monitored my progress until the fall of 2007 when he noticed something suspicious on my right kidney. Once he suspected that the cancer had spread to my right kidney, he recommended that I see a specialist and referred me to Dr. David Y.T. Chen, a surgical oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center. I was familiar with Fox Chase and knew it was a great hospital, so I believed I would be in good hands.

A few hours later, I got a call from Dr. Chen’s office. I was very impressed with the efficiency of the process, and I was able to meet with Dr. Chen within 24 hours through Fox Chase’s Rapid Access Program.

I was impressed with Dr. Chen at my first appointment. He was kind, smart, and patient. He told me that something was on my right kidney, and because I only had one kidney left he wanted to be very cautious. He said that no tumor is a good tumor. He also said that he wanted to do a conventional type of surgery so that he could see for himself how my right kidney looked. I told him that my wife, Maria, and I trusted him.

On Sept. 19, 2007, Dr. Chen performed an open partial nephrectomy to salvage my right kidney and to preserve its function. I recovered very well and continue to be under his care. I have been cancer free for five years and now have an MRI every two years rather than every year. I have been feeling great and still work as a construction supervisor. I enjoy seeing my friends, spending time with my family, and just living a normal life as much as possible.

I wish I had seen Dr. Chen from the beginning and often wonder what my life would be like if I had. Having Dr. Chen for my doctor was life changing for me, and I want to publicly express my gratitude to him.

There is not a day that goes by that I take for granted. I hope my story helps someone out there. It is so important to seek a second opinion and find a doctor that listens to you and doesn’t rush you. Dr. Chen is exceptional, a rare combination of someone who is so kind and so knowledgeable. It has been a blessing to have him in my life.

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