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John Feeney - Patient Story

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"Dr. Curcillo's knowledge and surgical skills made it possible for me to maintain my quality of life."

— John Feeney, Barrett’s esophagus patient

I am in better health now than I was 10 years ago. I continue to live a fairly active lifestyle and enjoy landscape photography, bike riding, bodysurfing at the Jersey shore, and swimming with our grandchildren in our backyard pool. I thank God every day for my good health and for Dr. Paul Curcillo II, a surgical oncologist, as well as the staff at Fox Chase Cancer Center for doing what they did to keep me healthy.

I was 70 years old when my health issues started to take their toll on my body. I had a heart attack in 1998 when I was 52. I lost 30% of my heart capacity and was also diagnosed with ventricular defibrillation. The next year, I was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis of the liver and ulcerative colitis. At age 60, I was diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus and with diverticulitis at age 64.

Afterwards, I started having two to three episodes of diverticulitis at the same location in my sigmoid colon each time, which meant that the condition needed to be addressed. I got opinions from two surgeons who both recommended complete removal of my colon. They thought a colon resection of the sigmoid colon could potentially trigger a flare-up of the ulcerative colitis. The surgeons also told me that people with ulcerative colitis are at high risk for colon cancer. With that risk, they said, I should just go ahead and have my colon removed to prevent development of colon cancer in the future.

At that point, I wanted to make sure there were no other options for me, so I looked for about a year and a half to find a surgeon who was knowledgeable and experienced enough to recognize that complete colon removal was not necessary. My gastroenterologist recommended that I see Dr. Curcillo at Fox Chase.

Dr. Curcillo told me that colon cancer, if I developed it in the future, would not be very aggressive for a person 70 years old, and that with annual colonoscopies, any sign of cancer could be detected and treated. He took the time to look closely at my health status for the previous five years and determined that there was more than the one option available to me.

Dr. Curcillo performed a minimally-invasive laparoscopic sigmoid colon resection, and he did not need to remove any additional sections of my colon. Since that time I have had no recurrence of diverticulitis, and the ulcerative colitis and primary sclerosing cholangitis have remained in remission. Most importantly, I have retained my colon and can live a normal life.

I am very grateful for the care I received at Fox Chase and for Dr. Curcillo’s compassion, commitment to patient care, and kind demeanor. His knowledge and surgical skills made it possible for me to maintain my quality of life. In 2002, I retired from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection as a Radiation Research scientist, and now continue to enjoy visits to the shore, photography, and spending time with friends and family. My experience at Fox Chase has been exceptional, and I appreciate the dedication and concern that the Fox Chase personnel showed me and my family. I would recommend Fox Chase to anyone with health issues. 

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