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Helene Mullen - Patient Story

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"Dr. Reddy is a rare blend being both a skilled surgeon and a compassionate doctor."

— Helene Mullen, Grandmother and Stomach Cancer Survivor

When I started experiencing chronic and uncomfortable digestive issues over the course of two years, my primary care doctor prescribed heartburn medication, and I made changes in my diet. During that period, I often had an achy, acidy stomach, and I was taking Tums all the time. When the symptoms continued, my doctor referred me to a gastrointestinal specialist who conducted an endoscopy to examine my digestive tract in 2015.

The endoscopy detected a malignant tumor in my stomach. It was at that point that I realized I needed to find an oncologist.

I was 82 years old at this time. I am the mother of nine children and was widowed when I was young. While I was raising my large family, I was primarily a homemaker but I also worked as a registered nurse. Over the years, I have frequently turned to my children for guidance, and this time I turned to my daughter Mary Beth, who is a nurse and once worked at Fox Chase Cancer Center. I took Mary Beth’s advice and called Fox Chase. A GI nurse navigator, Bonnie Carolan-McNulty, scheduled me for an appointment with Michael J. Hall, MD, MS, a medical oncologist who specializes in gastrointestinal cancers.

At my appointment, Dr. Hall brought in Sanjay S. Reddy, MD, a surgical oncologist, to discuss my case. Both doctors were compassionate, kind, and knowledgeable. They recommended a procedure to check whether the cancer had spread to the fluid or organs surrounding my stomach and stomach lining. I trusted their opinion.

My first treatment was four rounds of chemotherapy to hopefully shrink the tumor before I had surgery. Then in December 2015, Dr. Reddy laparoscopically removed more than half my stomach, as well as all the cancer. The minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure meant I would not have a large abdominal incision.

While I was in the hospital, the nursing care was excellent, and they managed my pain effeåçctively. Dr. Reddy is truly one of the kindest doctors I have ever met and genuinely cares about his patients. He is warm and personable and listens intently to what you tell him. Everyone I came in contact with at Fox Chase has always been delightful. It takes a special kind of person to work in a cancer hospital.

By 2016, I was able to ease back into my daily routine. I have five grandchildren, and I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking, knitting, sewing, gardening, and reading.

I hope that my story will help others learn how Fox Chase can treat them in their time of need. I like to help people when I can, and I appreciate what my doctors did to treat me. I am doing well and feeling well. Two months after my surgery I had had no complications and was eating and drinking normally. I have had no digestive issues at all. I feel fortunate to have come to Fox Chase for my care.

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