“Anyone who has a cancer diagnosis needs to get recommendations and go shopping. Find a doctor like Dr. Chen. Find out who’s the best in their field, and go to them. For cancer, that’s Fox Chase.”
I’m 80 years old, and my wife and I live in Ambler, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. I’m a retired information scientist, but I still work as a consultant and write a regular column about information science events.
I was diagnosed with bladder cancer about five years ago. I have lupus, but I see a rheumatologist regularly and have kept the condition under control with medicine for years. Therefore, when I started seeing blood in my urine, I knew something else was going on.
I made an appointment with a local urologist, who performed a cystoscopy, a procedure in which the bladder is examined with a scope through the urethra. But it was so painful, there was no way I was going back to him. I needed to find another doctor.
Finding the Right Doctor
When I spoke to my son about my situation, he got in touch with a former college roommate who is now a doctor. “You cannot go wrong with Fox Chase Cancer Center,” he told us. So I went on the Fox Chase website, found a urology doctor, and requested an appointment. The website says they’ll get back to you in 24 hours and they did.
That’s how I met Dr. David Chen, a urologic oncologist and a fantastic doctor. I wish all doctors were like him. He’s very caring and has a wonderful bedside manner. I’m sure he sees many patients, but he remembers the work I do as a consultant and always asks about the conferences I attend.
I initially met with Dr. Chen at a Fox Chase satellite campus in East Norriton, which is in suburban Philadelphia, and he said he could help me. I then had several biopsies at Fox Chase’s main campus and was officially diagnosed with bladder cancer. My wife and I were concerned, but Dr. Chen reassured us that if you are going to have cancer, bladder cancer is at least more manageable than other forms of cancer.
Over the next several months, Dr. Chen performed a few surgeries where he scraped my bladder to remove the tumors. Then he proposed a type of immunotherapy called Bacillus Calmette Guerin, also known as BCG, which comes from the bacteria that was originally used to make the tuberculosis vaccine. Dr. Chen told me the procedure would be quick and painless: The BCG liquid gets injected directly into your bladder and essentially tells your immune system to attack any remaining cancer cells.
The treatment sounded like it had everything going for it and nothing against it, so I agreed. Dr. Chen was right. It was painless, the whole thing took only a few minutes, and in my case, it proved to be very successful.
Freedom From Cancer
After the BCG treatment, I went back for regular cystoscopies with Dr. Chen to check my progress. I went every month at first, then every three months, then every six. At my latest appointment, he told me I didn’t need to come back for a year, because there has been no sign of cancer!
That means I have even more time to do things I enjoy, like attending information science conferences and spending summers with my wife at the Jersey shore.
Anyone who has a cancer diagnosis needs to get recommendations and go shopping. Find a doctor like Dr. Chen. Find out who’s the best in their field, and go to them. For cancer, that’s Fox Chase.
Learn more about treatment for bladder cancer at Fox Chase Cancer Center.