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Jay Kernan - Patient Story

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"With stage 4 cancer, I knew I needed to do whatever possible to save my life."

— Jay Kernan

In July 2009, Jay Kernan was referred to a local urologist to treat urinary bleeding and pain. Following several rounds of tests, Jay was diagnosed with advanced stage bladder cancer. “The urologist suggested I see an expert at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia,” shares Jay, who resides with his wife, Gaetana, in a rural section of Salem County, NJ. Gaetana expressed her desire for Jay to be treated in Philadelphia, where more advanced cancer treatment is available. Jay called Fox Chase and made an appointment with Richard E. Greenberg, MD, FACS, chief of urologic surgery and Elizabeth Plimack, MD, MS, a medical oncologist at Fox Chase. Both specialize in treating patients with advanced bladder cancer.

“Right from the start, Dr. Greenberg was accommodating and nice,” explains Jay. “He confirmed the complexity of my cancer diagnosis, explaining that it had spread to nearby organs." Dr. Greenberg performed the extensive surgery to remove Jay's prostate, bladder, appendix and several lymph nodes.

A few weeks later, during recovery, Jay passed blood in his urine again, began losing weight and was feeling weak. Dr. Plimack was prepared to administer a course of chemotherapy targeted to the cancer. After four months of treatment, however, the tumors were not responding. In 2010, Dr. Plimack identified a clinical trial that could potentially be successful in combating the cancer. Fortunately, Jay was a candidate for the trial and enrolled. “With stage 4 cancer, I knew I needed to do whatever possible to save my life,” Jay recalls.

Jay participated in the trial for seven months. “I spent a lot of time in the infusion room and the nurses were so compassionate,” says Jay, for whom the trial worked. “Gaetana and I are very grateful to Dr. Plimack for identifying a life-saving trial. She is professional, smart and compassionate,” he adds. Dr. Plimack considers Jay to be an "exceptional responder," meaning he was essentially cured with medical interventions including surgery and chemotherapy that usually don’t cure patients with metastatic disease.

Jay and Gaetana celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary in 2015 with their four children and 12 grandchildren. This family man is a self-proclaimed Notre Dame "fanatic" and enjoys watching television and dining out.

"I would recommend Fox Chase Cancer Center – the doctors all collaborate and they saved my life."

In 2015, Jay celebrated five years of being cancer-free. “Don’t let a diagnosis fool you. There are misconceptions about treating cancer. Do what the doctors tell you to do and drive where you need to go," Jay says. "I would recommend Fox Chase Cancer Center – the doctors all collaborate there and they saved my life. I am grateful that a clinical trial was offered to me.”

 

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