Tanya Dwyer - Patient Story

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"After I finished chemotherapy, everything started to return to normal for me and my family."

— Tanya Dwyer, Choriocarcinoma

Tanya Dwyer was treated in 2004 for a rare type of cancer affecting younger women, called choriocarcinoma, in Philadelphia. Choriocarcinomas usually occur in the reproductive organs and develop from cells that would typically turn into eggs in a woman's uterus. These cells usually grow quickly and spread widely.

Tanya was a single working mom at the time. "Then, several years later, I found out the cancer had recurred in my lung," she recalled. "I was devastated."

Tanya decided to go to Fox Chase Cancer Center for treatment. She met with Lainie Martin, MD, a medical oncologist, and an oncologic surgeon specializing in thoracic cancer treatment. In 2007, Tanya underwent a surgical procedure to remove the cancer that had spread to her lung.

"Everybody at Fox Chase was so caring and nice, especially the doctors," shared Tanya, who was not able to return to work right away. Her children were entering 9th and 10th grades in Philadelphia, where uniforms are required. As a single mom, Tanya was concerned about paying for school supplies and uniforms.

That's where JoAnne Rufo stepped in. JoAnne works in the social services department at Fox Chase. She wanted to help Tanya and her family - and knew she could turn to Joan Buonanoce, who works in the operating room. Joan helps run an organization called Helen's Hope.

Helen's Hope was created in loving memory of Helen Ebner, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2007. The mission of Helen's Hope is to provide financial assistance to people battling cancer and their families whose lives have been impacted by this disease. It was "Helen's Hope" that this much needed support would relieve some of the financial stress experienced by those affected by cancer so that both the individual and family can focus on improved health and hope for the future.

"Helen's Hope gave us a $500 gift card to purchase my kids' school supplies and uniforms," shared Tanya. She received a food basket at Thanksgiving, some of which lasted until Christmas. "This whole experience has been hard, but I thank God for the changes and blessings that have come with it."

Tanya is grateful to Fox Chase and Helen's Hope for their support at this time in her life. "The staff at Fox Chase that I have come in contact with have been extremely helpful, nice and resourceful - and very welcoming," said Tanya. She still sees her doctors several times a year to make sure the cancer is under control. "I really feel that the people at Fox Chase treat everyone equally - no matter their circumstances. And that is truly a blessing."

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