Robert Kabaci

Esophageal Cancer Patient Stories

Robert Kabaci

Bobby Kabaci suffered from heartburn since he was a child. Growing up, he became so used to it that it never really occurred to Bobby to go to his doctor. Bobby's mother, who worked in a doctor's office, insisted over and over that he seek medical attention. "I finally thought that if I went to the doctor, my mom would stop bugging me to go!" laughed Bobby.

The physician ordered an upper GI (upper gastrointestinal x-ray), which revealed folds in Bobby's esophagus. His next step should have been a full endoscopy right away. "Again, I kept putting it off until one night I started choking on my food. I finally realized it was time to do something," said Bobby.

"I wanted to go to Fox Chase. They're the best."

One year later, at the age of 38, Bobby scheduled a full endoscopy. The news was shocking. Bobby had cancer in his esophagus. His doctor referred him to a large Philadelphia hospital. Bobby explained, "I figured they knew what they were doing at that hospital, but I wanted to go to Fox Chase. They're the best."

His parents, Nancy and Bob, supported his decision. She explained, "As soon as we met Dr. Scott and Donna, his nurse practitioner, we immediately liked them and knew we were in the best hands."

Bobby's team of doctors, including Walter Scott, MD, a surgeon who specializes in thoracic cancers, and Jonathan Cheng, MD, a medical oncologist, worked together to develop a treatment plan. They determined that a course of chemotherapy and radiation therapy to shrink the tumor prior to surgery would be the most effective treatment.

A second opinion raised their confidence.

Nancy called Memorial Sloan-Kettering, one of the nation's top cancer hospitals, in New York City, for another opinion. "They agreed 100 percent with Fox Chase and told me that they offer the exact same treatment as Fox Chase. That was comforting, to say the least," recalled Nancy.

"The nurses were so helpful that I was able to continue working through treatment."

Bobby continued to work at his job as an automotive painter through his chemotherapy and radiation, only missing 3 days of work during his 5-week course of treatment. "I would leave work at 3pm and drive to Fox Chase for radiation," recalled Bobby. "As for chemo, the nurses would hook me up to a small pouch on Mondays - like a fanny pack - that I could wear all week. When I returned at the end of the week for radiation, they would remove the pouch for the weekend. It was pretty simple."

"It's a great feeling to be alive and well."

In October 2008, Bobby will reach the 5-year-mark of his cancer diagnosis. "It's a great feeling to be alive and well. I take my medication every day and gave up smoking and drinking. I feel very lucky to have been treated by the talented doctors and nurses at Fox Chase. They truly saved my life."