Fighting cancer was Alex Nagy's toughest battle
Alex Nagy escaped harsh Communist rule and built a successful life in the United States. He thought he left the war long behind him, until he met the greatest enemy he'd ever face - cancer.
Alex Nagy of Tabernacle, NJ, has overcome many
struggles in his life and has been face-to-face with
death many times. But he never imagined that a
small mass of cells in his body would be the biggest
threat to his life.
"For years I had bothersome heartburn, but my
doctor and I kept an eye on it with yearly endoscopies,"
says Nagy. During an endoscopy, a physician
guides a thin scope with a light and camera at its
tip to look inside the upper digestive system. Nagy
recalls the endoscopy findings: "The procedure went
smoothly until the surgeon got to the bottom of my
esophagus and found a mass in my stomach."
Soon after, Nagy underwent another endoscopy
and further testing to find out what the mass
was. That's when he got the devastating news. He
recalls what the doctor said like it was yesterday:
"It's esophageal cancer."
Exploring cancer treatment options
If esophageal cancer is caught early, it can usually be
treated successfully. "In Mr. Nagy's case, he underwent
the standard treatment of chemotherapy followed by
radiation therapy to shrink the tumor," says Michael
Fox Chase Virtua Health Cancer
Program medical oncologist.
The final step of treatment was surgery to remove
the tumor and surrounding tissue. Through the Fox
Chase Virtua Health Cancer Program's partnership with
the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, physicians
from both organizations work together to treat complex
cases such as Nagy's. Dr. Entmacher referred Nagy to
a Fox Chase surgeon who specializes in cancer of the
esophagus and stomach.
To everyone's surprise, the surgeon found another
type of cancer called gastrointestinal stromal tumor
(GIST) in Nagy's stomach. "GIST is a rare form of malignant tumor that usually arises in and around a
digestive organ," says Dr. Entmacher. While shocked
by the news, Nagy said that he was comforted knowing
he had the best team of doctors caring for him.
Keeping up the fight
It's been almost two years since his cancer diagnosis
and Nagy is doing well. "I'm back to my normal
activities. Sometimes I forget that I'm living with
cancer," he says. He's like others living with a lifelong
disease, such as diabetes or arthritis. He manages
his cancer by taking a daily oral chemotherapy
medication, living a healthy lifestyle and seeing his
doctor for regular checkups.
"I have been committed to beating this cancer
since the day I was diagnosed," says Nagy. And
that's just what he's doing. Nagy's GIST has shrunk
to one third the size it was, and he continues to take
his chemotherapy drugs. "I am lucky to have had
such wonderful, compassionate and knowledgeable
physicians caring for me. They saved my life, and I
am so thankful for them," says Nagy.
Michael Entmacher,MD, is a boardcertified
and a Fox
Chase Virtua Health
Cancer Program oncologist.
He earned his medical
degree, completed an
internship and residency
in general medicine, and
a fellowship in hematology and oncology at Duke
University School of Medicine. Dr. Entmacher also
completed a residency in general medicine at Ohio