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Michael Buzalewski - Patient Story

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“My team of Fox Chase doctors helped me get where I am today.”

— Michael Buzalewski, Metastatic Adenocarcinoma of Unknown Primary

I started having digestive problems in the spring of 2014, with symptoms including abdominal bloating, gas, and excessive belching. When those symptoms intensified and I was not able to eat meals without having abdominal pain, I went to the ER at a hospital near my home in Berks County. Doctors there treated me for bowel obstruction and pain from my distended abdomen.

An exploratory laparoscopy showed that I had white spots throughout my peritoneum, mesentery, and omentum; severe inflammation of the bowel; and ascites. The diagnosis was adenocarcinoma of an unknown primary site and peritoneal metastases. A colonoscopy indicated the presence of benign polyps.

Even though we liked the oncologist near us in Berks County, my wife, Karen, and I decided it was best to seek a second opinion. Karen is a nurse and was familiar with Fox Chase Cancer Center. My doctor referred us to a medical oncologist at Fox Chase, who then recommended that we see Dr. Sanjay S. Reddy, a surgical oncologist, to discuss my surgical options.

We both liked Dr. Reddy from our first meeting with him. He was easy to talk to and answered all of our questions in detail. He kept us up to date on all test results and all available treatment options. I don’t know many surgeons who call their patients at home to discuss test results and action plans, but Dr. Reddy did. He is a caring, compassionate, and dedicated physician.

Dr. Reddy recommended surgery along with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), an innovative technique that delivers highly concentrated, heated chemotherapy treatment directly to the abdomen during surgery. This technique allows higher doses of chemotherapy to be administered directly to the tumor. HIPEC is different from standard chemotherapy in which drugs are administered intravenously and then circulate throughout the body.

Fox Chase was a blessing sent to us by God. All of the doctors, nurses, and other hospital personnel went above and beyond to provide us with the best care and to ease our fears throughout the entire process. The nurses in the infusion room were phenomenal--attentive, pleasant, and caring.

We live just under two hours from Fox Chase, so arrangements were made for us to stay free of charge at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge for the week I was recovering from surgery, which was a tremendous help to us financially.

Dr. Reddy saved my life. He is a talented and dedicated surgeon who truly cares about his patients and their families. Even after long hours in the operating room with other patients, he would come to check on me before leaving for the night. He was honest and didn’t sugar coat anything. He informed us about all the risks associated with HIPEC surgery so that we could make our decisions based on the information he presented.

I believe I am here today because of Dr. Reddy and the medical oncologists at Fox Chase. The innovative treatments offered at Fox Chase have enabled me to return to work and continue to do the things I love to do. I have no idea what the future holds because we never actually found the original source of the cancer, but the scans I have had since surgery have all been clean. I will continue my care at Fox Chase because I am living proof that the dedicated team of doctors and nurses helped get me where I am today.

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