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John Roley - Patient Story

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"I am forever grateful to everyone who found the problem, fixed the problem, and restored me to excellent health."

— John Roley

 

John and his wife, Lucy, are big fans of ballroom dancing.John and his wife, Lucy, are big fans of ballroom dancing.In the fall of 2007, I experienced stomach pain so bad that I had to be rushed to the emergency room. I was thinking that I probably had a bad stomach virus, but a CAT scan showed something suspicious on both of my kidneys. A follow-up MRI indicated that they were malignant tumors.

It was a complete shock. My doctor explained that I would need two surgical procedures involving large incisions followed by a six-to-eight-week recovery, and that I would be at risk for infection during that time. I felt as though my brain shut down at the news.

My wife, Lucy, recommended that we seek a second opinion before making any decision. My doctor steered us to Dr. Robert Uzzo, chief of surgical oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center. He described Dr. Uzzo as one of the top kidney surgeons in the country, so I quickly made an appointment.

Dr. Uzzo reviewed my test results and recommended that the cancer on each kidney be removed in two surgeries. Rather than traditional surgery, Dr. Uzzo said he would use the minimally-invasive da Vinci robotic surgical procedure that makes tiny incisions, results in very little scarring, and produces almost no bleeding. Also, this robotic partial nephrectomy would help preserve my kidney function and would eliminate the need for dialysis. I was also pleased to learn that the procedure would mean about 50% less hospitalization and recovery time than the traditional approach my doctor had described when I was diagnosed.

To be a candidate for the robotic-assisted procedure, I needed to be in good health. I was 76 at the time, and, fortunately, my cardiologist said that I was a perfect candidate for the procedures. My first surgery was in March 2008, and less than three months later I underwent the second surgery. I spent only two nights in the hospital after each procedure.

I had no complications and healed quickly. MRIs showed that my kidneys were functioning well, were fully healed, and that there was no evidence of cancer. After each procedure, I was told to get up and walk, walk, walk, which I did, along with lots of breathing exercises. At home, Lucy encouraged me to get up and take long walks with her. Her love and support played an important role in my recovery.

Within weeks of surgery, Lucy and I went back to ballroom dancing once or twice a week. I was able to do anything I wanted, except lifting any heavy objects. By fall of that year, we traveled to Florida for a week of ballroom dancing, working out at the gym, swimming, and walking on the beach. Work is important to me, and I was able to return quickly to the fiberglass company where I am a part owner. I feel that I am in excellent physical condition today.

Dr. Uzzo did a masterful job removing the cancerous tumors while saving over 90% of each kidney. It was nothing less than miraculous and unbelievable. He is an extremely talented surgeon. The other doctors and nurses at Fox Chase were simply great in taking care of me and helping me to recover so quickly. I am forever grateful to everyone who found the problem, fixed the problem, and restored me to excellent health, and I pray that they are able to help others the way they helped me.

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