Patient Stories

A young woman tells the story of how she has coped as a two time liver transplant patient.
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At only 13 years old, Ian Bernard made a selfless contribution to pancreatic cancer research in honor of his late grandfather.
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My name is John Whitley, and I have lived in Nyack for 25 years. In January 2011, I got sick, then rapidly sicker. At first they thought I had a gall bladder problem, but when I didn't improve after gall bladder removal, I was referred to New York Presbyterian Hospital. Many, many tests finally revealed that I was in the early stages of pancreatic cancer.
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Double lung transplant patient Timothy Sweeney completes the New York City marathon with his surgeon, Dr. Joshua Sonett.
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When Megan Ellerd and Steven Ferretti met seven years ago, it was "instant love," she says. Not long after, the young couple found out that Steven had autoimmune hepatitis — but they didn't worry too much about it, hoping that it wouldn't affect them until much later in life. In 2008, however, the two were happily engaged when Steven's condition suddenly took a turn for the worse. His liver was failing, and he needed a transplant.
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A tall, rugged twenty-year old at Rutgers University, Joe Deen spent a lot of time outdoors, hiking, backpacking and working at a Boy Scout camp. In 2006, he developed brachycardia, an unusually slow heartbeat, that doctors linked to Lyme disease. But when the tests for Lyme were inconclusive and the problem persisted, Joe received a pacemaker. One year later, he was diagnosed with heart block and learned that he was in the early stages of congestive heart failure. In 2009, just months after his graduation, Joe's heart wasn't pumping enough blood so Dr. Yoshifumi Naka performed an emergency LVAD surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia.
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For Lucien Zito, the process of finding appropriate treatment for his pancreatic cancer was a strenuous and protracted ordeal, adding to the stress of the diagnosis. Fortunately for this energetic 65-year-old former real estate developer, he was able to draw upon a loving and supportive family and substantial inner resources for support.
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Betsy Hilfiger, fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger's sister, never had reason to believe she was at risk for pancreatic cancer. Trained as a nurse, she was well aware of the illness and its known risk factors--smoking and heredity among others. The Hilfigers had some cancer in their family, but none of the cancer syndromes associated with pancreatic cancer or pancreatic cancer itself. But a routine battery of bloodwork showing abnormalities in her liver enzymes led Betsy to discover she pancreatic mucus cell cysts. While initially benign, if left alone they almost always become malignant.
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