Brenda Montgomery - Patient Story

"It is clear to me why my friend recommended Fox Chase, and now I would highly recommend coming here to anyone diagnosed with cancer."
‐Brenda Montgomery

When you lose a child, you not only experience emotional and spiritual pain, but physical pain. A few months after the loss of my son in June 2016, I began occasionally experiencing physical symptoms like chest spasms, which I assumed where due to the pain of my grief. My primary care physician, however, suggested the pain in my chest might have a different cause. In March 2017 she ordered an ultrasound to check for gallstones or an ulcer or cyst. By the time I got home that evening she had called and said she wanted me to have a CT scan.  

The symptoms I was experiencing worsened following the CT scan and by the end of the week; I felt extremely weak and had my daughter drive me to the emergency room. That was when I was told I had mass on a part of my small intestine, the duodenum.

A second opinion for a duodenal cancer diagnosis

The radiologist at the first hospital didn’t have a great bedside manner and didn’t show any empathy or take the time to explain my situation. From that encounter I knew that I would need to surround myself with positive people and have a positive attitude to get healthy again.

I made the decision to seek a second opinion and reached out to friends for advice. One friend told me to go to Fox Chase Cancer Center, where he had also been treated for cancer.

Dr. Sanjay Reddy performs a Whipple procedure

I scheduled an appointment and met with Sanjay S. Reddy, a surgical oncologist at Fox Chase. Dr. Reddy explained that I needed a Whipple procedure. He took his time to make sure I understood not only my diagnosis of duodenal cancer, but also what the surgery involved, answering all of my questions. The moment I got to Fox Chase I felt such peace. It was a completely different experience from the first hospital.

On April 24, 2017 Dr. Reddy performed the Whipple procedure, where he removed my gallbladder, part of my intestine, the head of my pancreas, and a portion of my stomach. Recovering from this surgery was not easy, but everyone that I encountered during my nine-day hospital stay was positive, and that helped tremendously.  

After I recovered from surgery, I started a regimen of FOLFOX chemotherapy treatments in June 2017. This involves a potent combination of drugs given both in the infusion room and with a mobile pump. I received an IV infusion for two hours and then a pump that allowed me to move around while receiving the treatment for the next 22 hours. I repeated this on the second day, and then had 12 days off until the next cycle. I received six treatments over the course of 12 weeks, and fortunately I experienced little to no side effects.

Family and friends can make all the difference

Throughout my journey I was blessed to have a very good support system. My family assisted me around the clock, preparing meals and making sure I was taken to all of my appointments. I recently received another CT scan and I am proud to say that the scans were clear. I am excited to get back to my normal routine, starting back at work and continuing to spend time with friends and family. Fox Chase was a major reason that I had such a good outcome.  It is clear to me why my friend recommended Fox Chase, and now I would highly recommend coming here to anyone diagnosed with cancer.

Learn more about the gastrointestinal cancer program at Fox Chase Cancer Center.