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Metastatic Lung Cancer Patient Stories, Colon Cancer Patient Stories, Liver Cancer (Bile Duct Cancer) Patient Stories
If you meet Bill Killian, he'll most likely ask you "Why is laughter the best medicine?" His answer? "Because there is no co-pay." In his spare time, Bill has a stand-up comedy routine about cancer. "Obviously, the only people who can appreciate the humor are those who have had cancer. If you can find humor in an iliostomy bag, you can get through anything!"
A born comedian, Bill has learned to laugh his way through the most serious time in his life.
In January 2004, weeks before his 43rd birthday, Bill Killian was not feeling well and began experiencing pain in his urinary tract. He finally became so weak that his wife, Dianne drove him to their local emergency room where they had originally diagnosed Bill with a urinary tract infection. She knew something else was wrong.
"I asked the doctors to do a colonoscopy. I had a feeling that might be the source of the pain."
"I asked the doctors to do a colonoscopy. I had a feeling that might be the source of the pain," recalled Dianne, who was correct. Bill was immediately diagnosed with colon cancer.
"We realized a world-recognized cancer treatment hospital was less than 5 miles away."
Following surgery at his local hospital, Bill and his doctors reviewed the next course of treatment. "It was at that point when we realized a world-recognized cancer treatment hospital was less than 5 miles away," said Dianne.
"We couldn't fool around anymore. We knew the right decision was to head over to Fox Chase Cancer Center. People travel to Fox Chase from all over the world - and it's right in our back yard. Fox Chase is like a gold mine of cancer curing and treatment," said Bill.
Bill met with Fox Chase oncologists specializing in gastrointestinal cancer. During the first round of chemotherapy, a PET Scan revealed that the cancer had spread to his liver.
"The best docs in the business work at Fox Chase."
"The best docs in the business work at Fox Chase, including Dr. James Watson, a surgeon. He compared my cancer to a game - and told us the ball is in our court. I decided right then and there that he was doing my surgery," recalled Bill.
Dr. Watson performed a liver resection, in which he removed the tumor located in the resected area of the liver, without leaving any cancer behind. After recovering from surgery, Bill underwent a second course of chemotherapy, which seemed to work initially.
"We made so many friends with the staff and other patients."
Dianne explained, "The infusion room nurses are amazing. We made so many friends with the staff and other patients during our time there. It was an experience that not many people share."
Several months later, at a check up, Bill learned that the chemotherapy was not as successful as his doctors had hoped. The cancer had spread to Bill's left lung.
After hearing this devastating news, Bill, an arborist, had to make the difficult decision to sell his tree service business after 20 years. "It was one of the hardest things I've done - even more so than the cancer in some respects. I was truly passionate about my career."
"Even though I was facing lung surgery, I tried to keep a positive attitude."
"Even though I was facing lung surgery, I tried to keep a positive attitude. Fox Chase is full of so many great people. Every time I meet someone, I can make them laugh. I try to inspire them in some way or another and if laughter doesn't bring the spirits up I don't know what does. And cancer isn't funny!"
Dr. Melvyn Goldberg, a Fox Chase surgeon who has since retired, performed triple resection on the left lung. Bill recovered and began his third round of chemotherapy.
Several months later, history repeated itself during a check-up when his new surgeon, Dr. Walter Scott, learned that the cancer was back - now in both lungs. He performed both lung resection surgeries - just 4 weeks apart in the fall of 2007.
To date, the cancer has not returned and Bill is feeling great. He looks at cancer as a boxing match. "Cancer is the opponent and with each fight I prepare myself differently but with the same goal: to win. I keep fighting the fight each time. After each fight, I get back in the ring and go the distance. The doctors, nurses, infusion room staff and lab techs sit in my corner as a support team. My family and friends are in the crowd cheering me on. I haven't been knocked out yet!"
"I feel so fortunate to have been under the care of the best doctors at Fox Chase."
"I feel so fortunate to have been under the care of the best doctors at Fox Chase. They truly have a special gift and if it were not for their talents, I don't know that I'd be here today."
"I wouldn't have made it without my wife, Dianne's, love, support and 100 percent dedication, not to mention she does not take 'no' for an answer!" said Bill, who considers himself a lucky man. "My experience has given me the special opportunity to help others, and that I would not trade for the world."
Dianne and Bill call Fox Chase their salvation. "Our time there has opened our eyes to so many things. If we lived anywhere in the world, we would travel to Fox Chase for cancer treatment."