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In 1980, Albert Egner was at home one day when his phone rang. On the other end was a woman he had never met before, named Bernadette, who had dialed her old phone number out of curiosity. It turned out that Al was the lucky person who inherited her phone number. After a long conversation, they decided to meet. A courtship began and continued for 20 years, when Al decided to make it "official." The two married in 2002, when Albert was in his early 60's.
Several years later, Al noticed a trace of blood in his urine, which lasted a couple of days. "Fortunately, I had an appointment with my regular doctor," he recalled. "He suggested I see a urologist who found a tumor in my bladder." Al underwent surgery to remove the tumor, but it recurred within the year. At that point, Al was referred to Robert G. Uzzo, MD, at Fox Chase Cancer Center, one of the nation's leading urologic surgeons.
"Lucky for me, I live close to Fox Chase Cancer Center."
Al believed Fox Chase was the place to go for cancer treatment. At his first appointment on March 15, 2007, Dr. Uzzo recommended surgery to remove the tumor in his bladder, followed by reconstruction of a new bladder, called a neobladder. On March 17 (just 2 days later), Dr. Uzzo performed the complex procedure, removing Albert's bladder and used the small intestine to build a new or neo-bladder thereby replacing the old one.
"I consider Dr. Uzzo the 'Michaelangelo' of bladder cancer reconstruction. He did a fantastic job."
"I feel absolutely great," explained Al, who was very happy with his decision go to Fox Chase for treatment. Although the surgery had to be performed traditionally, rather than laparoscopically, Albert had minimal scarring and all of his bladder function preserved.
A course of chemotherapy before and after surgery reduced the risk of recurrence. "The nurses in the infusion room take amazing care of every patient," recalled Albert. "Everyone I met at Fox Chase was terrific. It's a great place."
Today, Albert continues to see his medical oncologist, Gary Hudes, MD, for follow up appointments, as well as Dr. Uzzo. He stays in good physical shape by taking 2 1/2 mile walks every day around the neighborhood with Bernadette. "Having my health back and spending time with Bernadette is what I truly treasure."