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Brian Derby - Patient Story

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"I knew that I wanted Dr. Chen to be my surgeon, I trusted him."

— Brian Derby, Testicular Cancer Survivor

Before his cancer diagnosis, Brian Derby was a very quiet and private person. In June 2014, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Brian understood the importance of seeking medical attention quickly after noticing a change in his body. “I decided to go public with my experience because if I can help other guys catch cancer early, it’s worth me sharing my story,” Brian says.

For a few weeks, Brian, then 58, noticed his right testicle seemed different: hard and a bit tender. “I wasn’t sure what it was but I hoped it would go away on its own,” remembers Brian, who made an appointment with a urologist for further evaluation. Before that appointment, on a Saturday in June, Brian and his wife, Paula, went on a 7 mile bike ride. Afterwards, Brian noticed that his testicle was bothering him more; besides feeling harder, it now felt heavier.  By the following Saturday, his discomfort increased so he decided to go to the ER in his community hospital. An ultrasound was performed and a doctor told Brian numerous tumors were found, that he probably had testicular cancer.

Brian and Paula left the hospital in shock. “We just looked at each other and realized that we needed to find a doctor,” Brian explains. Paula starting researching cancer doctors in Philadelphia and came across Fox Chase Cancer Center. “I remember she told me Fox Chase is one of the best cancer hospitals in the country and that she was going to call first thing on Monday.”  

Paula called on Monday morning. “We took advantage of the Rapid Access Service and I had an appointment the next day, Tuesday,” Brian remembers.

"I knew that I wanted Dr. Chen to be my surgeon, I trusted him."

Brian’s appointment was with David Y.T. Chen, MD, FACS, a urologic surgeon at Fox Chase who specializes in minimally invasive procedures. “When I first met Dr. Chen, I was impressed,” Brian says. “I had further testing and he brought me into his office to discuss the results. He explained that I had testicular cancer and that I needed surgery. He asked me if I wanted to get a second opinion. I knew that I wanted Dr. Chen to be my surgeon, I trusted him.”

Dr. Chen explained that surgery should be scheduled soon. “He had an opening that Thursday and asked if that was good for me. I agreed and we scheduled the procedure,” Brian says. “I couldn’t believe we called Fox Chase on Monday, saw the oncologist on Tuesday and then I had surgery on Thursday. It was incredible and very comforting.”

During the procedure, Dr. Chen removed Brian’s right testicle. Fortunately, the cancer was contained and had not spread, or metastasized.

“Dr. Chen’s demeanor was very helpful during this delicate process,” admits Brian. “I had worries, like most men do. I spoke about my concerns which included intimacy concerns, and Dr. Chen assured me I would be OK and he was right. It’s comforting knowing that you can discuss these issues with an understanding doctor.”

During a three-month follow-up, Dr. Chen shared that Brian was doing well and did not need additional treatment.

"I also appreciate the wonderful care I've had at Fox Chase. It’s a remarkable place."

Brian, who turned 59 in 2015, had his annual check-up, remains cancer-free and is feeling well. He’s back working as an equipment operator for a township in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. “I feel very lucky and grateful that I found Dr. Chen. I am glad we caught the cancer early. I also appreciate the wonderful care I've had at Fox Chase. It’s a remarkable place,” Brian says.

He urges other men, both young and older, not to feel nervous about seeing a doctor if they notice changes in their body below the belt. “I know it’s scary but go to the doctor. If it’s cancer, catching it early is what you want.  I hope my story helps other men.”

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