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Published on June 14, 2013

Joe Wise - Patient at KishHealth System Cancer Center, DeKalb 

Joe Wise

Joe Wise

Several years ago, when Joe Wise had a routine chest x-ray, he and his family were surprised that the x-ray came back with a spot on the upper lobe of his right lung. It was cancer.

He had surgery to remove the spot, but since treatments back in the 1980’s were not as advanced as they are now, the entire upper lobe of Joe’s lung was removed, and there was no follow up chemotherapy or radiation. Fortunately Joe had quit nine smoking nine years prior to his diagnosis.

Twenty years later, at the end of 2006, Joe was experiencing some health problems. He had shingles and then went to an orthopedic doctor for a lump on his elbow. He was advised to go to Rush where the doctor found that Joe also had lumps on his chest and neck. He was diagnosed with lymphoma at that time, and was told that it was the most treatable kind, but the cancer had returned.

Joe saw Dr. Sabet Siddiqui and went in for several rounds of chemo at Kishwaukee Cancer Care Center, (now The Cancer Center at Kishwaukee Community Hospital). The chemo shrunk the tumors and he came back every six months for monitoring. Almost five years later, though Joe remained symptom-free, a routine CT scan revealed two tumors in his left lung. In March of 2011, Joe was referred to Loyola where doctors removed the tumors, this time with minimal scarring, sparing much of the surrounding lung tissue.

Chemo was optional, but Dr. Siddiqui recommended it as a precaution, so Joe went in for three rounds. “I wouldn’t go anywhere else, Dr. Siddiqui is a great oncologist,” Joe said. “All the staff here at The Cancer Center are wonderful, compassionate, and loving, from the receptionist to all the nurses.”

In January 2012, Joe was experiencing pains in his abdomen. A CT scan showed a relapse of the cancer. Joe was diagnosed with large B-cell lymphoma. Dr. Siddiqui was able to treat Joe’s cancer for as long as he could before he needed a stem cell transplant. Since the cancer was so aggressive, Dr. Siddiqui recommended a stem cell transplant, rather than chemo only, to reduce the risk of the cancer returning.

Joe decided to go ahead with the transplant, and saw Dr. Scott Smith at Loyola. For seven days, Joe drove in to Loyola, where they took his own cells for the transplant. He was then admitted to Loyola for the transplant and was there 17 days and then stayed in a hotel within 30 minutes from the hospital for the next 13 days.

Joe and his doctors believe that his being in good shape, exercising with water exercise and swimming laps daily, has helped in his recovery. Joe recommends to everyone: “Take responsibility for yourself, so when you are met with challenges you can face them head on.”

Joe continues his battle with cancer and through the entire process, he has remained positive. He said, “I believe that most of my survival has been due to God’s mercy and grace.”

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