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Marna Brown-Krausz - Patient Story

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"Dr. Chen is what you want every doctor to be: knowledgeable, confident, yet down-to-earth and approachable."

— Marna Brown-Krausz, Kidney Cancer Survivor

I reached a milestone at the beginning of 2017: I had been cancer free for five years following my treatment for kidney cancer.

Early in 2012 when I was 57, I was being treated for ovarian cysts and realized I was having recurring pain in my lower left abdomen. I made an appointment with my gynecologist for a physical and further testing, including an ultrasound. The technician doing the ultrasound spent more than an hour on my right side instead of my left, leading me to suspect that something was wrong. Later that evening, my gynecologist called to tell me that I likely had cancer in my right kidney and referred me to a urologist.

The urologist confirmed the diagnosis after a CAT scan and explained that I would need to undergo either traditional open surgery, or laparoscopic surgery, which he did not perform. I then met with a surgeon at a New Jersey cancer center who recommended traditional surgery to remove only the cancerous part of my kidney. The procedure would be shorter and the recovery longer, but he could not schedule the surgery for a couple of months. That delay troubled me greatly; I was planning to attend my stepdaughter’s wedding in Israel in May that year, and with the longer recovery time I would not be able to travel.

I also felt that the doctor was talking ‘at’ me, not ‘to’ me. I felt that he was not tailoring his protocol for me and my particular situation, and I decided to get a second opinion. My urologist referred me to Fox Chase Cancer Center, where I met with David Y.T. Chen, MD, FACS, a surgical oncologist.

Unlike the first surgeon I met with, Dr. Chen explained that my cancer was stage 1, grade 3, and that my right kidney probably had not been functioning correctly for quite some time. Dr. Chen was concerned about the location of the tumor because it was so close to blood vessels, and he recommended a laparoscopic nephrectomy within the following week to remove my right kidney.

From the moment I met with Dr. Chen he was committed to helping me and was focused on my care. I was really shocked that I had cancer, and he helped me focus on what to do to fight my problem rather than just feeling sorry for myself. He was what you want every doctor to be: knowledgeable, confident, yet down-to-earth and approachable. Since Dr. Chen was warm and straightforward, he made me feel comfortable immediately. I trusted him right away because he was easy to talk to and likeable. 

Dr. Chen performed the minimally invasive procedure to remove my right kidney, and in May I was well enough to attend my stepdaughter’s wedding in Israel. Since then, my husband and I travel there at least twice a year to visit. We enjoy our six grandchildren, and I continue to work as a realtor in New Jersey.

The two surgeons I previously saw gave me totally different prognoses and protocols for treatment. I know that I made the right decision by going with Dr. Chen, and I can’t imagine what would have happened had I been treated by the other doctor. When I was deciding between surgeons, I knew that I liked Dr. Chen’s approach. He really considered my particular situation rather than offering me a general one-size-fits-all approach. I just felt like I was in good hands with him.

I am truly grateful for my excellent experience at Fox Chase. I recommend Fox Chase because they are cancer specialists with expertise and a warm and comforting staff. Dr. Chen is a marvelous doctor, and I continue to see him for follow-up visits. I cannot say enough good things about him. He saved my life and made the right choice for me. By sharing my experience, I hope I can help someone else understand the importance of going to a great physician and a great hospital.

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