Bil Sauer - Patient Story

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"Laura and I were so impressed with Dr. Kutikov's knowledge and approach."

— Bil Sauer

In June, 2012, Bil Sauer, an entrepreneur and owner of several businesses, was wrapping up a busy work week. It was late afternoon on a Friday, and his wife Laura and he were planning on spending the weekend at their lake home with their two teenage children Tom, 14, and Tehya, 18. “It was getting late so I told my wife and kids to go ahead and I would meet them there,” recalls Bil. He lost track of time and it was almost 7:00 pm before he left his Bucks County office. Bil decided he would drive up on Saturday morning instead. “My plan was to watch the Phillies game on TV and eat dinner at home,” Bil remembers.

During the early evening, Bil had trouble urinating and this continued into the night. "Then, I noticed blood in my urine. I had never experienced that before. I was scared," admits Bil, who drove himself to the Emergency Department at St. Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem, PA. 

After several rounds of tests and examinations, a doctor disclosed some news Bil was surprised to hear. The doctor said, "I think you may have cancer." Bil recalls hearing those words and thinking it made no sense. That doctor later confirmed a very large mass was detected on his right kidney. Bil asked the medical professionals to contact his family as they weren't aware that he was in the hospital. The team had already contact his wife, Laura, who was already on her way. 

The doctor called two hospitals and shared scans of Bil’s kidney. The first hospital was not in a position to accept Bil as a patient. Fortunately, the second was. It was Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. “I had heard of Fox Chase through TV commercials but the thought of going to Philadelphia to be treated for a possible case of kidney cancer was surreal," explains Bil. "I was a healthy, active guy in my mid-40s. Who would believe it?”

Within a few hours, on Saturday morning, Bil was transported to Fox Chase by ambulance. “I remember speaking to the guys in the ambulance saying I couldn’t believe what was going on,” he says.

Bil says he was greeted by a team of professionals at Fox Chase and felt the atmosphere was calm and efficient. Bil met his surgical oncologist, Alexander Kutikov, MD, FACS, who specializes in urologic cancers. After further testing, Bil learned he had an 11 centimeter mass on his right kidney. 

"Laura and I were so impressed with Dr. Kutikov's knowledge and approach," shares Bil. "He offered us two options. First, he could remove the tumor and leave me with a portion of my kidney or he could remove the entire kidney. It was my choice." Given very large tumor size, Dr. Kutikov recommended removing the organ entirely and explained that Bil would likely have the same quality of life with one kidney. "My wife and I agreed and I was scheduled for a nephrectomy the next day. Dr. Kutikov performed the surgery laparoscopically through a very small incision."

“Everyone at Fox Chase really knows how patients should be treated. The nurses were phenomenal,” he says.

The following day, Dr. Kutikov checked on Bil to reassure him. “It was so thoughtful of him to come see me on a Sunday. Dr. Kutikov is a really nice guy. Down-to-earth and thoughtful,” shares Bil.  

Prior to his medical emergency, Bil had two vacations planned: one at his lake house and then one at the New Jersey shore. “I asked Dr. Kutikov if I would be able to go home and be with my family on our planned vacations. He said he would do his best to make it happen. And, he did. I followed his recommendations for restricted activity and I took it easy but I kept my vacation plans,” Bil adds.

Thinking back about his experience at Fox Chase, he calls it “a blessing.”  

“The Fox Chase doctors saved my life – especially Dr. Kutikov.  If I wasn’t referred to Dr. Kutikov I probably wouldn’t be here now. He told me it was a serious and aggressive cancer and I am so grateful that he was my surgeon,” he says.

What Bil also remembers is how well the entire team worked together for the greater good.  “I just remember telling Laura how everyone really respects each other here and how the synergy really benefits the patients at Fox Chase,” Bil says.

Bil, who turned 47 in 2014, returns to Fox Chase twice a year to see Dr. Kutikov. “My scans are clear and I am feeling well. When Dr. Kutikov and I meet, he treats me like a person, not a patient. He speaks to me with compassion and that is so important. I think he’s a great doctor and person,” says Bil. "I will forever feel grateful to Fox Chase."

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