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Frank Punzo - Patient Story

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A conservative approach to my kidney cancer spared me surgery and chemotherapy for five years and counting.”

— Frank Punzo

In 2010, at the age of 83, Frank Punzo experienced an outbreak of gout and turned to his family doctor for initial treatment. “My doctor referred me to a nephrologist who ordered an ultrasound, during which a mass was discovered,” explains Frank. “When I heard I had kidney cancer I was very shocked and said ‘You gotta be kidding me.’” He decided to seek a second opinion.Frank did his research and decided to call Fox Chase Cancer Center for an appointment. “I had seen their television commercials and had heard from a few people that Fox Chase concentrated solely on cancer,” Frank says. “I selected Fox Chase because I heard it was a great hospital whose oncologists treat many different cancers.”

Frank made an appointment with David Y.T. Chen, MD, FACS, a urologic surgeon at Fox Chase. “Dr. Chen is very down to earth, smart, nice, helpful and patient,” explains Frank, who was immediately impressed with Dr. Chen’s demeanor. “I thought he was a great doctor because he wanted to rule out every option rather than rushing to surgery.”

Instead of surgery and treatment options that could be difficult for a patient in his eighties to endure, Dr. Chen opted for a conservative approach, called “active surveillance,” often referred to as “watchful waiting.”

“I chose this option and followed Dr. Chen’s recommendation because an operation would have impacted my lifestyle and I would likely be on dialysis. By seeking a second opinion, my life was changed for the better. It is very important because you want to explore every opinion before you make your decision,” Frank continues.

“Dr. Chen recommended a check-up every six months to see if the mass grows because at my age, it has probably been there for a while and seems to be growing slowly. So there was no need to rush, just watch it. I listened because that option did not change my lifestyle. I am very grateful that five years have gone by and that nothing grew. It was definitely the right decision,” Frank says.  In 2015, Frank celebrated his 88th birthday. “Looking back, I am grateful to Dr. Chen and his conservative approach, which offered me five more years of a good quality of life without the effects of chemotherapy and surgery,” Frank adds. In 2015, Frank and his wife, Rita, also celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary. Together, they have two sons, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Before he retired, Frank was employed for 35 years by DuPont.

Frank enjoys listening to country music, watching television, driving, relaxing, walking, going to church and attending his grandchildren's sport games and their concerts. He’s also active in the senior citizens club - Sons of Italy. “I wanted to share my story in order to express gratitude to Dr. Chen and Fox Chase. He’s smart and patient and I know he was the best doctor for me,” Frank concludes.

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