Anna Marchese

Ampullary Cancer Patient Stories

Anna Marchese

Anna Marchese smiles when she's with great-granddaughter Charlotte.

In early 2005, 88-year-old Anna Marchese experienced a funny feeling around her waist before passing out on her way to bed. Although she woke up right away, her son, Pat, insisted on taking her to the hospital. Anna had been a widow for almost 30 years and felt fortunate to have her son living with her. "My husband died of lung cancer," shared Anna. "He never knew the dangers of smoking. It was what everyone did at the time."

After a 3-day hospital stay, Anna's results were inconclusive. Just 2 weeks later, Anna had the same sensation in her waist. As with the first time, the feeling went away, but Anna returned to the hospital. Again, they had no answers for her.

"Fox Chase has the area's top gastroenterologists and the newest equipment."

"At that point, my family doctor suggested I see a GI," recalled Anna. He referred Anna to Fox Chase Cancer Center. "He told me not to be upset because it's a cancer hospital. He was sending me there because Fox Chase has the area's top gastroenterologists and the newest equipment."

Anna scheduled an appointment with Oleh Haluszka, MD, a gastroenterologist at Fox Chase. After a thorough examination, Dr. Haluszka discovered a small tumor arising in the ampulla (where the bile and the pancreatic ducts join in the head of the pancreas to empty into the small intestine).

Surgery became Anna's last hope for a cure.

"Because of the tumor's size and location, Dr. Haluszka couldn't remove it, as he would have liked," shared Anna. Her team of doctors discussed her case and decided to offer Anna a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy to shrink the tumor. Unfortunately, her tumor was unresponsive to this aggressive treatment. Surgery became Anna's last hope for a cure.

"Dr. Watson is a warm, caring surgeon."

She was referred to James C. Watson, MD, an oncologic surgeon at Fox Chase who specializes in complex gastrointestinal procedures. "Meeting with Dr. Watson was terrific," Anna explained. "He is a warm, caring surgeon and very talented." Dr. Watson offered to perform one of the more complex gastronintestinal surgical procedures known as a Whipple pancreaticoduodenectomy to remove Anna's tumor.

"My family and I were thrilled with the results of surgery."

She discussed the option with her daughter and son, and considering her good health, they decided to schedule the procedure. The complex procedure was performed uneventfully and Anna was discharged from the hospital in ten days with no difficulties with mobility. "My family and I were thrilled with the results. Dr. Watson took very good care of me and I recovered fully."

Anna appreciates the opportunity to spend time with her children, grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. "I love seeing the kids grow," Anna said. "I'm just sorry my husband can't be here to enjoy our wonderful family."

"I always had good health. And thanks to Fox Chase, I still do."

Anna recommends Fox Chase to anyone who needs its services. "Dr. Watson removed my tumor when I was 88 and I'm doing well now at age 92 - what more can I say?" Anna chuckled. "I always had good health. And thanks to Fox Chase, I still do."