Patient Stories

A cancer diagnosis can be unexpected and devastating. With so much to think about, it’s important to know the best chance for good results comes with cancer care at Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute. The Cancer Institute has more than 40 surgical, medical and radiation oncologists. Working in teams, these cancer specialists are in constant communication with patients and each other. We also collaborate with some of the country’s best and brightest cancer experts, thanks to an exclusive relationship with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance, with access to groundbreaking clinical trials. Patients receive effective care right from the start and right here in their community.

Tammy B.

Five years ago, Tammy Bauer was diagnosed with early-stage melanoma. After having surgery to remove the spot, she thought she was out of the woods for good. However, her cancer journey was far from over. In January 2020, Tammy discovered a lump under her arm. The results from an ultrasound and biopsy determined she had stage 3 melanoma in her lymph nodes. “I was beyond terrified, but I knew my care team would fight alongside me, no matter what,” Tammy says. With an extraordinary care team and innovative treatment, Tammy was given a fighting chance against this rare diagnosis. Now, more than a year after her surgery, she is cancer free and thriving against all odds. Watch her video and learn more about her outstanding outcome.

Annette F.

In spring 2021, Annette Filler was diagnosed with breast cancer. Encouraged that the cancer was caught early, Annette immediately met with a surgical team at another health network where she had received her care for decades. The meeting left her unsatisfied, so she reached out to surgical oncologist Lori Alfonse, DO, with Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute for a second opinion.

When Annette met Alfonse and the team at Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute, she immediately knew she was in good hands and moved forward with their recommended treatment plan, which included surgery to remove the tumors followed by radiation and chemotherapy.  Watch her video to learn more about her journey with Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute.

Caroll N.

Busy CEO and Lehigh Valley resident, Caroll Neubauer, was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2019 and was treated at Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute. Then the CEO of B. Braun, Caroll received a second opinion from a top-notch oncology treatment and research center in Europe that confirmed the treatment plan recommended at Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute was best. Now, Carroll acts as an ambassador for Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute and was recently recognized as Community Impact Champion Sponsor at Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute’s Celebration of Champions.

Bernice M.

As a nurse with over 40 years’ experience, 68-year-old Dupont resident Bernice Markowski knows the importance of going to the doctor when something isn’t right. So, when she noticed postmenopausal spotting in August 2021, she quickly scheduled an appointment with her gynecologist.

Additional testing and biopsies led to a surprising diagnosis: stage IA grade 3 endometrial adenocarcinoma (a type of uterine cancer).

Dan D.

When Dan Dolphin woke up one morning with terrible back pain, he feared the worst. As a survivor of papillary kidney cancer who had undergone a nephrectomy less than a year before, he was concerned that his cancer had returned. His worst fears were confirmed after his orthopedic doctor ordered a bone scan – his kidney cancer had recurred and spread (metastasized) to his bones. Even though Dolphin was happy with his nephrectomy at another institution, he wasn’t completely satisfied with the follow-up care he received.

So when it was confirmed that his cancer had returned, he spoke to close friends for advice on where to go for a second opinion. He made an appointment with oncologist Suresh Nair, MD, Physician in Chief, Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute. From the first time they met, he knew he was in good hands.

Beth and Mary

Beth waited seven years for her next mammogram. She didn't have a family history of breast cancer, and she was a busy mom working full time. Mary went for her mammogram faithfully every year. When they met on the golf course, they discovered they had the same doctors and similar journeys with breast cancer. And their mission is the same too. Take care of your own health. Get an annual mammogram – it can save your life.

Mariah V.

Mariah was eagerly expecting her second child when she noticed a suspicious mole on her scalp in February 2018. A biopsy revealed a locally advanced melanoma requiring immediate treatment.

After consulting with her Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute physician and specialists with Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Alliance, her team decided to remove the lesion and perform a sentinel lymph node biopsy to determine whether it had spread. However, they would delay other potentially harmful treatments until after delivery.

In June 2018, Veley underwent a C-section at 37 weeks to begin further treatment. Baby Scarlett was born without complications and she is cancer free.

Vincent ‘Bill’ A.

Vincent “Bill” Ambrulavage credits a Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute clinical trial with helping him win his battle with kidney cancer.
Vincent “Bill” Ambrulavage credits a Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute clinical trial with helping him win his battle with kidney cancer.

Kidney cancer has been a part of Vincent ‘Bill’ Ambrulavage’s life for over seven years. Ambrulavage, an avid softball player, says he was shocked when he first learned of his diagnosis because he didn’t experience any pain. “The only thing I noticed was blood in my urine. I went to a urologist and he did an MRI and found a tennis ball sized tumor on my kidney,” says Ambrulavage.

Ambrulavage participated in a clinical trial at Lehigh Cancer Institute and has been in remission since May 2019 and says he feels better than he has in years. He is no longer on medication as part of the trial and affectionately refers to Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute as his ‘home team’.

Ron P.

Ron was busy with his career and staying active in his beloved Pocono Mountains community. But a cough cropped up that just wouldn’t go away. After seeking medical help, it turned out that his cough was the only sign that he had stage 4 lung cancer.
He trusted in the experts at the Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Pocono for his care. With guidance from his medical oncologist and radiation oncologist, Ron’s treatment included radiation therapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
Today, Ron enjoys the changing seasons in the Poconos, and is thankful for his care team at Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center for making it all possible.

Catherine C.

As an emergency department nurse, Catherine knew she had to listen to her body when a dull ache on the right side wouldn’t go away. A single mother with two boys to raise, Catherine faced an unimaginable ordeal: endometrial cancer.

Then she found hope at LVHN Cancer Center–Schuylkill. The center had recently opened at LVH–Schuylkill E. Norwegian Street, and offered a convenient place near home (and her sons) for chemotherapy treatments following cancer surgery.

Thanks to her care, she is now cancer-free. “Some days it was hard to find hope. But the team at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Schuylkill gave me just that and more. I will be forever grateful,” she says.


Prima D.

When you’re 31, you don’t expect to have cancer. But that’s what Prima faced. In a matter of weeks, a sarcoma tumor in her breast grew from less than one inch to more than three inches.

In a moment of hopelessness, Prima received hope. Her care team at Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Pocono had the resources she needed to conquer cancer, including genetic testing, presurgery chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Today, Prima is healthy. Most of all, she is grateful for the people who were there for her at Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center when she needed them most.


Matthew H.

Coming home from vacation, Matthew didn’t feel well and knew something was wrong. On the day of the August 2017 solar eclipse, the father of three and owner of a busy garage and autobody shop, learned he had pancreatic cancer. He worried that time was short and the disease would eclipse his chance to walk his daughter down the aisle for her wedding.

But he came to Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute and learned he had options. He met with surgical oncologist Jeffrey Brodsky, MD, and hematologist oncologist Maged Khalil, MD, who guided his treatment. He joined a clinical trial, had aggressive chemotherapy as well as precise, effective surgery.


Rebecca S.

No time is good for a cancer diagnosis. But the timing was especially jarring for Rebecca of Easton. She was 26 in late 2012, and worked two jobs to support herself and her two daughters, then ages 5 and 2.

While the timing of her tumor couldn’t have seemed worse, it couldn’t have been better in one respect. That’s because Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute became one of only 10 sites nationwide selected for a clinical trial for a drug called anti-PD-1 prior to FDA approval. It removes molecular brakes that normally prevent the immune system from attacking cancer cells.

That was more than 5 years ago. Just ask Rebecca, who is enjoying time with her daughters.


Bill C.

Bill received a “death sentence” in 2016. Doctors from two big medical centers declared his esophageal cancer inoperable. They gave him 6 months to live and offered chemotherapy that could add a year, but diminish his quality of life. Bill was 64 and wasn’t expected to see 65.

Then he went to the Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute. We performed the complex surgery other doctors wouldn’t do and removed most of his esophagus.

He has been healthy ever since. Just ask Bill, who’s busy making family memories.


Gene M.

At 80, Gene had a lot to live for. A wife. Five daughters. Six grandchildren. Time to spend in his woodworking shop. Then a kidney cancer diagnosis changed everything.

Gene’s first stop was the Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute. A clinical trial through our partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center helped doctors guide his treatment which combined radiation therapy and immunotherapy.

He’s now been cancer free for more than a year. Just ask Gene who’s spending more time with his close-knit family.


Teresa O.

Teresa never imagined she would have breast cancer. As a nurse she cared for many patients with cancer and always got her annual mammogram. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer she went to the Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Pocono.

She got compassionate care from her whole team including the oncologist and the surgeon, who explained everything so she was prepared.

She recently had her six month mammogram and she’s cancer free.


Jeff D.

Jeff has been battling a rare form of leukemia for 23 years. Now he’s fighting prostate cancer with powerful radiation. Jeff has spent time at some of the most prestigious medical centers in the nation. But he’ll take Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute over all of them. Jeff loves that he’s treated like a person, not just another patient.

When Jeff visits the Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Pocono he knows he’s receiving leading-edge care no other hospital in the region can provide.

Just ask Jeff. He’s thrilled to be receiving compassionate, top ranked care right here in Monroe County.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK)

MSK Cancer Alliance Membership

In the fight against cancer, you want to have access to the latest advances in care. Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute is a proud member of the MSK Cancer Alliance, which provides patients with even more lifesaving care options, close to home.

Learn more