Louis Della Penna - Patient Story
"It's an amazing story. Believe me, I shouldn't be here."
— Louis Della Penna, Kidney Patient
The burden of cancer is one that Louis Della Penna knows all too well. In 1994, Louis came to Fox Chase with concerns about a chronic sore throat. He met with Dr. John "Drew" Ridge, chief of head and neck surgery. Dr. Ridge determined that his sore throat was caused by acid reflux. Fortunately for Louis, Dr. Ridge did not stop his examination there.
"I apologized for taking up his time, but Dr. Ridge said to me, 'You came here for a reason,'" Louis recalled.
Dr. Ridge was right. After reviewing Louis' medical history again, he discovered Louis never had follow-up for a kidney stone several years prior. Dr. Ridge referred Louis to Dr. Richard Greenberg, chief of urologic oncology. After running some tests, Dr. Greenberg determined Louis had kidney cancer that had advanced to stage III.
"I had no visible symptoms. None," said Louis, who ended up having one of his kidneys removed. "Without these two very special Fox Chase surgical oncologists, I know I wouldn't be here today."
"We wanted to express our gratitude by supporting programs at Fox Chase," said Louis. Through their extraordinary generosity, Louis and his wife, Carol, have funded two major endowments totaling $1.5 million: the Carol and Louis E. Della Penna Endowed Fund in Urologic Research and, more recently, the John A. Ridge Surgical Oncology Fellowship.
With these gifts, the Della Pennas have turned past personal experiences with cancer into the promise of future advancements in research, education and patient care. "From a humanitarian standpoint, it's so important to support cancer research," Louis said. "Sooner or later, everyone will be touched by this disease in some way."
"Carol and I hope our gift will help researchers develop a better understanding of cancer, how best to treat it and how to prevent it. By our example, we also want to encourage others to give," said Louis. "My feelings for Fox Chase are very strong. If you want to support something wonderful, there is no better place to give - no matter what your contribution."
Through their generosity, the Della Penna's gifts present invaluable opportunities for institutional growth. Just as Carol and Louis have celebrated Fox Chase faculty members for their remarkable talents, Fox Chase celebrates the Della Pennas for their priceless generosity.
Louis continues to have follow-up visits and remains cancer-free today. He summed it up, "It's an amazing story. Believe me, I shouldn't be here."