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Joan Windish - Patient Story

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“Not only is Dr. Chen a gifted surgeon, but also the most caring and compassionate person we have ever met.”

— Joan Windish, Ureter and Bladder Cancer Survivor

I had my annual check-up with David Y.T. Chen, MD, FACS, a surgical oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center, in January 2017. Dr. Chen told me I was doing well and that I remain cancer free eight years after surgery.

 My experience with cancer began in 2006 when I was 61. That year, I had a hysterectomy because of uterine cancer that had spread to my lymph nodes. Even though my uterine cancer resolved, I developed new problems.

I continued to be treated because the urologist at the community hospital noticed that one of my lymph nodes was swollen. During a procedure, my ureter was pierced and cancer cells from the ureter were released to my bladder, which led to blockage of my left kidney.

The next 2 years were filled with painful and frustrating procedures.  For several months I had to cope with a nephrostomy tube, an external catheter that my doctors put directly into my left kidney so that it would drain. The doctors who treated me seemed impatient and uncaring, and I began to feel that I would never have a better quality of life. They were uncertain about what type of treatment I needed, beyond recommending that I have my left kidney removed.

In early 2009 a parishioner where by husband, Joe, is a deacon suggested that I make an appointment with Dr. Chen at Fox Chase. At my first appointment, he told me he could help me, and I had hope for the first time in years.

Dr. Chen reviewed my medical history and recommended that I have surgery to remove an obstructing tumor from my left ureter.  After that, he could reconnect my ureter and restore the normal flow of urine passing out of my kidney and into my bladder.

Through his expertise, Dr. Chen finally ended my pain and suffering and gave me the life I dreamed of. The surgery he performed freed me from use of the nephrostomy tube, and I did not have to have my left kidney removed.

I can’t express my gratitude enough to Dr. Chen. He did what other doctors never even considered. Not only is he a gifted surgeon, but he also is the most caring and compassionate person we have ever met. He is always concerned in so many different ways, and I consider him a friend who is always there for me. I had a very pleasant experience with his nursing staff as well.

I am now retired from my position as director of religious education for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. I have time to enjoy being a spectator at our 3 granddaughters’ athletic events, dining out, and vacationing in Cape May, NJ.

My husband is an ordained minister so our faith means very much to us, and I am also very active in our church. I continue to reach out to many cancer patients and those in need.  I have been blessed by God and want to pass on the blessings God has given me. I try to convey God’s goodness and healing power, and that there is hope in God’s healing power, regardless of your situation.

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