Karen Leone - Patient Story

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I felt safe at Fox Chase, and I knew it was where I wanted to be

— Karen Leone

In 2013, I was in a tough place in my life. I was trying to readjust to a new “normal” life, continuing my work as a training coordinator at Philadelphia Family Court while grieving the unexpected loss of my husband from kidney cancer the year before.

Physically, I was feeling fine, but I knew how important it was to get routine health screenings, especially after what my husband had gone through. I went for a regular screening at my OB/GYN office, which revealed abnormal endometrial cells. After some additional tests, my doctor shared the devastating news: I had endometrial cancer. The fact that I had felt no symptoms or warning signs whatsoever made it even more shocking.

My doctor referred me to Fox Chase Cancer Center, and I knew immediately that it was the right fit for me. Since I lived in the area and knew what a great reputation they had, I felt completely safe at Fox Chase and I knew it was where I wanted to be.

My doctor at Fox Chase was Cynthia Bergman, a gynecological oncologist. Together we decided that my best option would be a full hysterectomy. In January of 2014, I went through the procedure. Even three years later I am still in awe of Dr. Bergman. She was so precise and thorough, yet my recovery was surprisingly easy. I was only in the hospital for two days after the surgery, with a minimal incision and zero pain. I was discharged a day early!

After the surgery, Dr. Bergmann recommended a follow-up course of chemotherapy and localized radiation with Dr. Angela Jain, a medical oncologist. I am completely confident that Drs. Bergmann and Jain together saved my life. Even when I experienced an allergic reaction towards the end of chemotherapy, Dr. Jain was by my side the whole time, caring for me and assuring me that I would be OK.

Shortly after my treatment ended I was able to return to work as a training coordinator. I also began teaching part-time for the Trio Veterans Upward Bound Program at the University of Pennsylvania, which helps veterans prepare for and graduate from college. I am overjoyed to be healthy enough to be enjoying time with my family and friends, especially my three grandchildren.

Looking back, I learned a lot about myself and others while I was undergoing chemotherapy. It was a deeply humbling experience, and it truly revealed the power of the human spirit. Many of my fellow patients were wonderfully positive and supportive of one another. We were all scared at different times, but with support and encouragement from each other and the incredible staff at Fox Chase, we kept a positive outlook and focused on moving forward.

I feel extremely blessed and lucky that I have been in remission for nearly three years now. Every six months I have a check-up, but my future is bright. I owe it all to Fox Chase, the place where I got my life back. 

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