Life After Cancer

February 07, 2019

Complex surgery helps a Manahawkin man overcome pancreatic cancer.

Awaking one morning with chest pain, Arthur Becker, 68, feared a heart attack and headed to the Emergency Department at Southern Ocean Medical Center. Physicians there ruled out heart problems, and the source of Arthur’s pain remained unclear.

Shocking Diagnosis

Arthur’s wife, Joann, scheduled an appointment with their primary care physician. He examined Arthur and scheduled a CT scan for the next morning, which revealed a large tumor on Arthur’s pancreas.

“Before this, I had no health concerns whatsoever,” says Arthur. “I knew it was serious.” Arthur was admitted to the hospital that day and met with Jatin Desani, M.D., an oncologist affiliated with Southern Ocean, who confirmed the presence of the mass. He referred Arthur to Ronald Matteotti, M.D., medical director of the Hepatobiliary and Pancreas Program at Hackensack Meridian Health and a surgeon at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, to explore surgical treatment.

“A lot of my friends were pushing me to go to the city for care, but after meeting with Dr. Matteotti, I made the decision to have the surgery at Jersey Shore,” says Arthur. “I was immediately comfortable with him and never doubted a word he said.”

Surgical Expertise

After confirming Arthur’s tumor was cancerous, Dr. Matteotti used advanced 3-D imaging to create a surgical plan to remove it. Dr. Matteotti explained to Arthur that he would need to remove the cancerous area of Arthur’s pancreas, as well as his gallbladder, spleen, part of his intestines and most of his stomach. He would then create a stomach pouch in its place.

“There are many vessels involved with the pancreas, and it touches and interacts with many organs. This was the safest approach to treating Arthur’s cancer,” explains Dr. Matteotti. Dr. Matteotti performed the 10-hour surgery at Jersey Shore. After two weeks recovering in the hospital, followed by a week in rehab, Arthur went home without the need for chemotherapy or radiation.

A New Life

Two years later, Arthur shows no signs of cancer. He’s back to normal life, spending time with family and working on his vintage cars. He’s also modified his diet to adjust to his new stomach.

“Everyone at Jersey Shore was exceptional. I really felt like they were dedicated to me getting better,” says Arthur. “Friends I know have passed away from pancreatic cancer. I’m so blessed I was alerted to the problem when I was and received the medical care I needed.”

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