Patient Stories

Although I am not usually one to share intimate details in a public setting, I feel that it is important to be able to share a message of hope and optimism. The day after my sister's wedding in Jerusalem, my sister told my father that he didn't look well, to which he replied with a joke about feeling sick from paying the wedding expenses. However, we all then noticed that my sister was right. Once home, my Dad scheduled a doctor's appointment, which led to an exam, which led to a test, which led to the terrible diagnosis: pancreatic cancer. Fast forward to chemotherapy followed by surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia with Dr. Chabot.
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You CAN beat pancreatic cancer, but you need a lot of help. I was at JFK Hospital in Edison, New Jersey in November 2011 waiting to have my gall bladder removed. During a pre-op endoscopic procedure, Dr. David Rosenheck saw a tumor on my pancreas. He and his partner, Dr. Steven Hodes as well as a surgeon all said that I HAD to see Dr. John Chabot at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. These doctors, none of whom I knew, contacted Dr. Chabot on my behalf, and I was transferred several days later. My wife Beth and I met with Dr. Chabot and Dr. William Sherman, who would be my oncologist. Dr. Sherman was running a clinical trial and both doctors invited me to join. This was the best decision I have made in my life other than asking Beth to marry me.
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In October 2012 at the age of 55 Robert DiChiara was picking pumpkins with his son when he developed abdominal pain that continued to worsen. A visit to his physician revealed that he had a tumor at the head of the pancreas and he was diagnosed with stage 3 adenocarinoma. Robert was told that he had roughly four months to live, so he took action immediately.
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In February of 1999 Robert Lawton began having gastric discomfort accompanied by itching. Within the next few days he developed severe jaundice and suddenly became very ill. After visiting his primary care physician, a CT of his abdomen revealed a lesion at the head of the pancreas and, ultimately, the diagnosis of adenocarcinoma. It was at this point that Robert came to Columbia University Medical Center to see Dr. John Chabot, the director of the Pancreas Center. Robert's pancreatic cancer was caught early on while the growth was still small, making him an excellent candidate for the Whipple procedure. After a successful Whipple, Robert was cured of pancreatic cancer, but his story does not end there.
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Erica Ervin was only 31 years old when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Now healthy and back to her normal routine, she offers some advice to others who are dealing with thyroid cancer.
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Claire Pace spent many long days caring for her son Adrian at the hospital, and decided to help other parents in similar situations by offering a small sense of comfort and normalcy. So she opened a weekly tea room, and for 18 years has been helping parents relax and take their minds off their troubles.
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It was the summer of 2008, I was 64 and we had just purchased a tiny lake cottage on Kayuta Lake between Ithaca and Watkins Glen, NY. I was beleaguered by consistent diarrhea and had the water rechecked to see if the well water was contaminated which was not the case. A colonoscopy in the Fall showed nothing and I was told to eat more fiber. That Winter I developed floating clay colored stools. An internet search found two possible explanations — Celiac Disease and Pancreatic Cancer. My grandmother had died of the latter but I hoped for the former. Since I had a total thyroidectomy 4 years earlier for thyroid cancer I deluded myself that I couldn't be unfortunate enough to have another cancer and pancreatic cancer at that.
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Hear the story of Johan and Tariq Sookoo, two young children who were diagnosed with heart failure and who both needed heart transplants to save their lives.
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Daniel & Elizabeth Ezra with their son, Leo
For Daniel Ezra, March 3, 2012 suddenly turned from a tender night of sharing with his pregnant wife how much they loved each other to every husband and expectant father's worst nightmare.
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