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Healthy Balance

A Life-Changing Cancer Diagnosis: Nancy Whitley’s Story

Nancy Whitley was given five years to live.

In 2011, Nancy’s daughter took her to the doctor after she had been complaining about flu symptoms all week. After a few tests and scans, they found a tumor. It had grown around her kidney and up her inferior vena cava, or IVC, the largest vein in the body. Doctors estimate the tumor had been growing unnoticed for two years.

Nancy was referred to UVA. Her family waited nine hours as John Kern, MD and team removed the tumor, her kidney, and the IVC, and replaced the vein with Gortex fabric.

“The type of operation that Nancy needed to remove her tumor is about as extensive of an operation as we do,” explains Kern.

Seven years after her cancer diagnosis, Nancy continues to receive treatment from Robert Dreicer, MD at UVA Cancer Center. She continues to work full time and lives a very happy, fulfilling life.

She wrote a letter to Kern thanking him for all the things she’s been able to experience, writing:

Since my 2011 surgery, my daughter has graduated from high school and college, gotten married and given birth to my grandson. My older son and his wife had a little girl in 2012. My youngest son graduated from high school and is about to start his senior year. Because of your knowledge and skill, I have lived to be part of all the great experiences I listed above. Thanks again.

Watch her story.

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