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Louis Della Penna - Patient Story

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"It's an amazing story. Believe me, I shouldn't be here."

— Louis Della Penna, Kidney Patient

I had no visible or obvious symptoms when I was diagnosed with stage 3 kidney cancer. I had been experiencing a perpetually sore throat, but wasn’t sure that it was anything to be too concerned about. I got it checked out simply for precautionary measures.

I had decided to go to Fox Chase in 1994 because I was concerned about a chronic sore throat. At that visit, I met with Dr. John “Drew” Ridge, chief of head and neck surgery, who initially thought that my sore throat might have been caused by acid reflux. I apologized for taking up his time for such an issue, but Dr. Ridge said, ‘You came here for a reason,’ and he was right.

When Dr. Ridge reviewed my medical history again, he discovered that I never had a follow-up exam after a kidney stone had been removed several years earlier. He referred me to Dr. Richard Greenberg, chief of urologic oncology at Fox Chase. Dr. Greenberg ran additional tests that revealed that I had stage 3 kidney cancer, and he recommended surgery.    

Dr. Greenberg performed surgery shortly after to remove the cancer from my kidney and any surrounding tissue. I was then kept as an inpatient to recover under the impeccable care of the Fox Chase team.

Without these two very special Fox Chase surgical oncologists, I know I wouldn’t be here today.

Following my recovery, my wife and I wanted to express our gratitude by supporting programs at Fox Chase. We have funded two endowments: the Carol and Louis E. Della Penna Endowed Fund in Urologic Research and the John A Ridge Surgical Oncology Fellowship. Dr. Ridge is now the Louis Della Penna Family Chair in Head and Neck Oncology, and Dr. Greenberg is the Carol and Louis Della Penna Chair in Urologic Oncology. We want our experience with cancer to support opportunities for advancements in research, education, and patient care.

From a humanitarian standpoint, it’s so important to support cancer research. Sooner or later everyone will be touched by this disease in some way. We hope our gifts will help researchers develop a better understanding of cancer, how best to treat it, and how to prevent it. We hope our example will encourage other people to give.

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. I am cancer free today, and I continue to return to Fox Chase for follow-up visits. It’s an amazing story. Believe me, I shouldn’t be here.

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