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Fritz Struckmann - Patient Story

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"I received impeccable care."

— Fritz Struckmann

All year I look forward to showing off my ’67 Corvette at the annual car show. At 72, working on the car and taking it out on the weekends for long drives is what I enjoy most, and the car show is always the highlight of my year. But my plans changed in July 2016, when a hernia I’d had for more than twenty years started to bother me more than ever before. I tried to ignore it as I always had, but when the pain became unbearable, my wife urged me to skip the car show and go to the emergency room.

The ER doctors gave me a CT scan, which revealed pockets of fluid around my intestines and abdomen. They told me this was uncommon, and although it could just be an infection, they wanted to be sure. They prescribed two strong antibiotics, and sent me to see a gastroenterologist, who directed me to an oncologist near our home in Pottstown.

After several tests— including a biopsy— that didn’t lead to answers, my local oncologist ultimately diagnosed me with appendiceal cancer, although I had no symptoms that would have pointed to cancer. For years my wife had feared I would get cancer, because of my former work in a chemical plant, and now it was happening. However, as devout Christians, we had tremendous faith that God was in control.

My doctor said Fox Chase Cancer Center would be a great place to be treated, and we are thankful he sent us there. From our first visit, my wife and I were blown away. Dr. Reddy, my surgeon, carefully and thoroughly explained the best approach to removing the cancer, including the long operation, recovery time, and the inpatient stay that would come with it. We scheduled surgery for September. In the meantime, Dr. Reddy gave us his personal phone number, and said if we had any problems or any questions, we could call him day or night. He always answered or got back to us immediately, which was very impressive.

Dr. Reddy and his team performed a cytoreductive surgery which included HIPEC. This administered heated chemotherapy drugs directly to my abdomen during the operation. This is a cutting-edge treatment not available everywhere. During the surgery, a chemo flush was put into my system, and my belly was moved around to ensure all the chemotherapy got to all the small places in my abdomen.

Since we live far away from the hospital, my wife was concerned about where she would stay during my surgery and recovery. Fox Chase was extremely accommodating, finding a free private room for her at the nearby American Cancer Society Hope Lodge. She was treated with kindness and had a wonderful experience there, which helped to ease her worries.

My procedure went flawlessly, and so did my inpatient recovery, which lasted 13 days. The most amazing part was that I felt little to no pain the entire time, which surprised even the nurses and doctors. I received impeccable care, and improved steadily every day.

I will never forget a nurse in the ICU telling me that, “Dr. Reddy walks on water.” I could not agree more.

Aside from expected side effects, including loss of weight and strength, some nausea, and trouble sleeping, I could not have asked for a better experience. April 2017 will mark my six-month post-op check up, and I am so grateful to God and to Fox Chase, where a bad experience turned good.

I feel blessed to live the life I have now. My wife and I enjoy life at our log home in the woods, and time with our three grown children and six wonderful grandchildren. Best of all, I am back on the road, driving my Corvette again.

 

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