Pat and Joan
It was June 2006 when Joan received the call that her husband’s colonoscopy came back with a large polyp in the colon. It turns out the large polyp was a cancerous tumor. She immediately called her husband, Pat, who was traveling for business. As an organized business man and strong husband, he said they would “do what they needed to do and get through this together.” They were unaware of the battle that would shortly ensue. Pat was only 49 years old. He underwent a physical and colonoscopy due only to the fact that his company enrolled him in an executive health program where it was mandatory for him to undergo such tests. This colonoscopy found what was a symptomless cancerous tumor. There were no signs of any discomfort or problems; the family was left in shock. A support system with their extremely close immediate family was established. The two high school sweethearts faced each doctor with a brave face and began a battle for life.
Pat had a surgery to remove the tumor in his colon. Many doctors assured the couple that the cancer was removed and a regular check up was only necessary at this point in time. He had a colon resection. Throughout the next few months, Pat healed from the surgery but felt “under the weather.” Something just didn’t feel right in his body. Joan urged him to go back to the doctor for more extensive tests.
It turns out that the love of his life, Joan, was correct. Less than 10 months later, there were 12 liver mets from the colorectal cancer. The doctors were stunned. They immediately brought in a team from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to assess the situation. Resection of the liver was not an option. Chemotherapy was the only way to go at this point.
Throughout the next two years Pat tried every form of chemo that was available. Joan and Pat would wake up at 4 AM and drive from their home in the suburbs to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in downtown Philadelphia for 7 AM appointments, scans and full days of blood tests. They became quite the team. They affectionately called Pat’s doctor appointments “dates” and would go for lunch after the doctor met with them and the chemo was administered. Joan threw herself into finding new natural supplements for Pat to take and even found a radiation treatment for him to try at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital.
The battle continued and chemotherapy failed, as Pat’s cancer did not respond to any of the treatments. The loving couple headed to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital after all else failed in search for the radiation treatment Joan had discovered through long nights on the computer and reading multiple articles. Pat completed two radiation surgeries at RWJH, however these two also failed as the tumors multiplied and traveled to his skull and bones. Although the prognosis was grim, Pat continued to work each day, run a successful business and, best of all, kept his life as normal as possible for his two children and wife. His goals revolved always around the well-being of others. He made many people happy and gave his family a life of opportunity and experience. He wanted to help, in any way possible, those suffering from colorectal cancer as he was each day. By choice, Pat began to enter clinical trials for treatment.
Pat tried numerous clinical trials for the treatment of colorectal cancer. He felt if his results in these trials could help one other person with this cancer, he would be completing his job. Each trip to the hospital, Joan was by his side not letting him attend the appointments alone. The motto and driving force was to be proactive against this disease and to keep a positive outlook at all times.
Joan and Pat bravely faced cancer for almost four years before Pat passed away on February 12th, 2010. In lieu of flowers, many of Pat’s co-workers and family members donated to the Colon Cancer Alliance continuing his wishes to help others. Although, the family is suffering the loss of a great man, they have become avid supporters of the fight against colorectal cancer. Joan and her daughters spent most of the month of March walking, researching events, and wearing blue to support those like Pat who are currently fighting the battle of their lives. The family will continue to educate, support and teach those battling this deadly disease for the rest of their lives. Pat's attitude, compassion and love to make others happy will live on through his wife and children.