Patient Stories

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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"Today I can say I am living the life I dreamed, and I am living a life I love. I can't even begin to express the difference and contribution Dr. Bessler and his staff has made in my life. He has given me the opportunity to take charge of my life and dare to live it to the fullest!" "Thank You, Dr. Bessler, for your skilled mind, hands and your loving heart!
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"My gastric banding experience has been one of the best decisions of my life. I would do it over and over again." — Eric "I am so happy I had gastric banding surgery. It has given me back my life, and hope. I never thought I would look normal again. I love it." — Patricia
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"Airplane seats aren't uncomfortable any more, and I love my new muscle."
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After several weeks of abdominal pain last summer, I visited my primary care physician. He ran a few tests, suspecting that my pain may have been related to previous issues, and I went home. By the time I went back two weeks later, I had developed some back pain. He promptly focused on the pancreas since it was located between the stomach and the spine where my pain was concentrated. He ordered a CT scan which showed "something" on the pancreas. Two MRI's later, my doctor, together with a gastroenterologist, showed us a mass at the head of the pancreas. Knowing that pancreatic cancer is a killer, I was overcome with panic.
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