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Marlene Owens - Patient Story

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"I really liked Dr. Chen from the moment I met him."

— Marlene Owens, Kidney Patient

Marlene Owens has always been committed to staying well. She visited her gynecologist yearly and during an annual exam in 2014, when she was 61, her doctor noted that Marlene's uterine lining seemed unusually thick. Marlene underwent a dilation and curettage procedure, often called a D&C, to remove tissue from inside the uterus. This tissue is studied by a pathologist to diagnose uterine conditions, including heavy bleeding. 

Following her procedure, Marlene experienced some discomfort on her left side. “The doctor told me to apply warm compresses and explained that it might be a result of the procedure,” recalls Marlene, who continued to feel discomfort. 

"I made an appointment with my primary care doctor, who prescribed medicine for irritable bowel syndrome. The physician's assistant was also concerned and ordered a CAT Scan," shares Marlene. "A few days later, my doctor called to say they detected something suspicious on my kidney.” Marlene was referred to a surgeon at her local hospital.

“I met with the surgeon, but he was not comfortable performing the procedure. Instead, he recommended that I call Fox Chase Cancer Center because it was likely malignant. I had seen commercials on TV and I knew someone who was treated successfully there, so I called Fox Chase,” Marlene remembers.

When Marlene called Fox Chase, she was connected to a nurse navigator, Trish O’Brien, who would help Marlene on her journey. Trish referred Marlene to David Y.T. Chen, MD, FACS, a urologic surgeon who specializes in treating patients with kidney cancer. Within a few days, Marlene had an appointment with Dr. Chen. “I remember thinking that it was very quick to get that appointment,” she says.

“I really liked Dr. Chen from the moment I met him and felt at ease. It’s a great feeling when you like the doctor from the beginning," explains Marlene. Dr. Chen explained the treatment options and suggested a partial nephrectomy. "Although it was the most invasive – it was the treatment that offered the best outcome for me. And I trusted Dr. Chen's judgement.”

In January, 2015, Dr. Chen performed the delicate procedure to remove the cancerous part of Marlene's left kidney, while preserving the organ and its function. “The nursing care I received at Fox Chase was excellent. One nurse stayed with me all night. Their team controlled my pain and I felt safe. I went home the next day,” she says.

Following surgery, the pathology revealed that Marlene had Stage 1 kidney cancer. What was so frightening, Marlene shares, is that she was asymptomatic. “If my primary doctor’s physician’s assistant didn’t order that CAT scan, who knows what would have happened!” she adds. 

Three weeks following surgery, Marlene was back in stride. She did not require further treatment. Marlene is retired and enjoys shopping, walking, and spending time with family and friends. She is very grateful for the wonderful care she received from Dr. Chen, his staff and everyone at Fox Chase. “Dr. Chen treated me as a whole person, not just a cancer patient. His approach is extremely helpful for someone who is facing a cancer diagnosis. Dr. Chen is very compassionate and never made me feel rushed," says Marlene. "I would truly tell anyone searching for a doctor or looking for a second opinion to call Fox Chase.”

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