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Carol Desko is one of those lucky people who keeps in touch with her nine best friends from grade school. Every few years, they travel together. In the summer of 2009, the year they all turned 65, and planned to take a cruise. Unfortunately, Carol couldn't join them because she was battling an aggressive form of endometrial cancer. But thanks to her talented physician, Dr. Christina Chu, she'll travel to St. Michael's with these ladies in the summer of 2014 to celebrate their 70th birthdays.
Carol's journey began in June 2009, when she began spotting. This was concerning to Carol, who was 65 and had already gone through menopause. "I thought I was having bladder issues and went to a urologist," shared Carol. When all tests were negative, she saw her gynecologist, who performed a biopsy, which was also negative. After a D&C (dilation and curettage) procedure was finished, the pathology results revealed the source of the bleeding. Carol had endometrial cancer. The most common type of this disease is called endometrial adenocarcinoma, but Carol's was a less common and more aggressive form, called uterine papillary serous carcinoma.
Carol's gynecologist referred her to Charles Dunton, MD's practice at Lankenau Hospital in 2009. He performed a complete hysterectomy, followed by a course of chemotherapy. By October 2011, Dr. Dunton suggested that Carol seek a second opinion from Christina Chu, MD, a surgical gynecologic oncologist who was at University of Pennsylvania at that time (she is currently practicing at Fox Chase Cancer Center). Carol was very appreciative to Dr. Dunton for having the foresight to refer her to another specialist.
Carol felt comfortable with Dr. Chu and knew she was in good hands.
At their first appointment, Dr. Chu reviewed Carol's medical history, and with confidence and compassion, told Carol, "I'll be able to help you." During their first meeting, Carol knew she was in the right place. She began treatment immediately.
After several rounds of chemotherapy, Carol was able to take a ten month break from the treatment (from May 2013 through March 2014). "I was so comfortable with Dr. Chu managing my care and am extremely happy with everyone at Fox Chase." In addition to being a knowledgeable and talented physician, Dr. Chu is one of the most caring doctors you'll meet." In April 2014, Carol began a new course of chemotherapy at Fox Chase Cancer Center. She feels fortunate that she hasn't experienced many of the common side effects of chemotherapy and admittedly feels good.
"I'm grateful that I've been able to continue working while undergoing treatment."
"I'm grateful that I've been able to continue working while undergoing treatment," said Carol, who is also appreciative of her husband, Michael, who is retired. "He definitely spoils me – he does the food shopping and cleaning. I come home to a nice meal each night!" For the past 20 years, Carol has worked as an examiner for a title company and enjoys her work. Her co-workers have been very supportive as well. "I believe in the power of prayer and am thankful for everyone in my life."
Due to her ongoing treatment, Carol and Michael haven't traveled far, but rather have enjoyed visiting with their four sons, eight grandchildren and their newest family addition, a great-grandson who was born in December 2013. Over the holidays, they visited the new baby in Virginia.
"I would recommend Dr. Chu to anyone facing a gynecologic cancer."
"I would recommend Dr. Chu to anyone facing a gynecologic cancer," pointed out Carol. "Dr. Chu is compassionate and honest. She tells it like it is, but instills a sense of confidence so you know she'll take great care of you. She gave me hope and I was so thankful that I could follow her to Fox Chase."
"Everyone at Fox Chase has been so nice – from the maintenance crew, to the nurses to the front desk staff. It takes a certain kind of person to work there," Carol described. "I’ve been to other hospitals where the infusion rooms are private. Fox Chase's infusion room is more open and everyone gets to know each other, if only for a short visit. It's very friendly, which is also nice for the family and caregivers, who are the real heroes!"