Frances Hatalovsky - Patient Story

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"I'll never forget how patient, kind, compassionate and attentive my doctor was when he first met with us."

— Frances Hatalovsky, Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor Patient

My main concern when I was told in 2006 that my carcinoid cancer had spread throughout my body was whether I would be able to return to work. I was 74 at the time and wasn’t even thinking about retiring.

I had started having colitis, stomach bloating, and other abdominal discomfort in 2000, but test results were inconclusive. When I had my diseased gallbladder removed five years later, the surgeon found a tumor nodule on my liver. The biopsy confirmed metastatic carcinoid cancer that had spread to other parts of my body, and at that point I was referred to Fox Chase Cancer Center for treatment.

I will never forget how patient, kind, compassionate, and attentive the Fox Chase staff was when they first met with me and my husband, John. They reviewed my records and test results, showed us my X-rays, and pointed out exactly where the cancer was located and how far it had spread. They asked me how I wanted to proceed given the diagnosis, and they gave me the confidence I needed to know I could beat the cancer.

In January 2006, I had surgery to remove the cancerous tissue from my colon, small intestine, ovaries, and liver. I retained my spirit and determination to recover fully and to remain active and engaged. All of the nurses were really great at boosting my morale. My doctor visited me the evening after my surgery and reported what he had removed to rid me of the cancer. I was very thankful; he was the first surgeon to follow up with me like that.

My birthday was the day after surgery and my daughter’s was the following day, so we had a lot to celebrate. We had several cakes and all the nurses shared in our celebrations. I was discharged on January 17, which was our 53rd wedding anniversary. John was thrilled to be able to carry me over the threshold of our home just as he had done on our wedding day. I returned to work two months later.

I retired at age 82, and I continued to follow up with Dr. Efrat Dotan, my medical oncologist at Fox Chase. I am treated with medication to inhibit any growth of the cancer. I love reading, shopping, going to the movies, taking an occasional trip to the casinos, working on various craft projects, taking drives, and spending time with my family. The phenomenal care I received at Fox Chase played an instrumental role in allowing me to continue to live my life.

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