Patient Stories

At the University of Chicago Center for Gastrointestinal Oncology, our approach to care is tailored to each patient's needs. Read the stories below to learn more about how individualized care and advanced medicine help our patients overcome cancer.

Bile Duct Cancer

Gus Snare

90 is Just a Number for Whipple Surgery
At 90, Gus Snare became the oldest patient ever to undergo the Whipple procedure at the University of Chicago. Our experts have found that older patients like Snare who are independent and healthy can recover from complex operations like the Whipple procedure. "As a geriatrician, I don't think about chronological age, but rather physiological age," said William Dale, MD, PhD, co-director of the Specialized Oncology Care & Research in the Elderly (SOCARE) clinic.

Colon Cancer

Mary Shedd

Woman Chooses Laparoscopic Surgery for Effective Colon Cancer Treatment (Video)
Using his own hand-drawn illustrations, Konstantin Umanskiy, MD, helped Mary Shedd understand why minimally invasive surgery was the best treatment option to help her beat colon cancer. Umanskiy performed a laparoscopic lower anterior bowel resection--an alternative to open abdominal surgery--to remove the cancerous tissue from Shedd's colon. Following the procedure, she experienced no complications, a quick recovery, and minimal scarring.

Esophageal Cancer

Tom Flint

Man Avoids Losing Esophagus to Cancer
When Tom Flint's Barrett's esophagus condition deteriorated into cancer, doctors at another hospital told him he had only one option--removal of the esophagus. Before considering such life-altering surgery, Tom turned to University of Chicago experts who used advanced minimally invasive techniques to treat the cancer and spare his esophagus.

Esophageal and Pancreatic Cancer

Ron Schwarz

Endoscopic Surveillance Leads to Early Detection of Two Cancers
In 2008, while monitoring Ron Schwarz’s for signs of esophageal cancer, interventional gastroenterologist Irving Waxman, MD, identified pancreatic cancer at a readily treatable stage. Four years later, Waxman found superficial squamous cell carcinoma in Schwarz’s esophagus. The 77-year-old Huntley, Ill., man was treated for both cancers and is back to enjoying his retirement.

Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor

John Hunt

Expert Treatment for a Unique Type of Tumor
John Hunt did a lot of research to find the right specialist to treat his gastrointestinal stromal tumor. "When my wife and I met Dr. Posner, we both liked him," Hunt said. "It was clear to us that he was a very skilled physician and an excellent communicator. He helped us understand what the game plan was and helped us gain confidence." More than a year after a successful surgery to remove two tumors, Hunt is enjoying a new career and life with his family in a new city.

Liver Cancer

Mary Keogh

A Complicated Case: Expertise and Emotional Support Combine for an Excellent Outcome
Mary Keogh faced a challenging combination of health problems--including liver cancer, lung cancer, cirrhosis, and fatty liver disease. Her complex case required the expertise of many University of Chicago experts who worked together to coordinate Keogh's treatment plan. More than three years after her cancer surgery, Keogh is cancer free.

Pancreatic Cancer

Diana Sokol-Roth

Fighting Pancreatic Cancer with Spirit
Pancreatic cancer is a very challenging disease. Diana Sokol-Roth turned to the University of Chicago Medicine for treatment, where physicians are constantly involved in leading-edge research. Diana met with Hedy Kindler, MD, who answered every question she had, and after that meeting, Diana knew she had “found somebody that was going to get us through the next chapter.”

Pam Duda

Against All Odds
For Pam Duda, the highlight of her treatment for pancreatic cancer was talking with fellow patients while she waited for chemotherapy treatments. Duda was eager to learn everything she could about her cancer and treatment options. Throughout her treatment, the care team explained every step to her. "I had a real understanding of what was happening to me," Duda said.

Rectal Cancer

Michelle Jahnke

Celebrating New Life After Cancer 
Soon after Michelle Jahnke learned she was pregnant with her first child, doctors discovered the 30-year-old had stage 3 rectal cancer. Other physicians told Jahnke she needed to terminate the pregnancy because her unborn child would not survive the surgery and radiation therapy needed to treat the cancer. But with the help of seven specialists at UChicago Medicine, Jahnke beat cancer and delivered a healthy baby girl.

Stomach Cancer

After a Cancer Diagnosis, One Patient Dramatically Changed His Life
Ed Robinson doesn’t take what he calls his "second chance at life" lightly; he lives every moment of every day to the fullest. Diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer in 2005 with what many thought was a slim chance for survival, Robinson now leads an incredibly robust and productive life centered around Rita, his wife of 28 years; his family and friends; his full-time career; and his commitment to giving back through service to his community.