PATIENT STORY

Stephen Swiderski, a World Traveler, Faces a Formidable Journey Through Bile Duct Cancer

Twenty countries in 20 years is more than most people can claim as a travel history, but for Stephen Swiderski, journeys are a passion. Two years ago, he did a 15-city trip across Italy over six weeks. When pressed, he’ll admit that his favorite trip — the place that lived atop his bucket list, unchecked for far too long — is the Great Wall of China. It did not disappoint when he finally made the trip across the wall.

Amid these journeys was one he never expected to go on: a diagnosis of stage III cholangiocarcinoma, or bile duct cancer.

“The diagnosis really took me for a loop, and it took everyone else with me,” Swiderski says.

It wasn’t long before he was in conversations with his doctors about a treatment plan consisting of an eight-hour surgery followed by 28 days of radiation.

“I was going to fight it with all I had in me,” he says. “This was something that physically and emotionally I could not succumb to. There were people that I just couldn’t leave and that is what gave me the strength to say, ‘Steve, you’re going to fight this thing tooth and nail.'”

Swiderski explained that he is still amazed by his doctors’ abilities to take their respective passions and use them to save the lives of their patients. His surgeon, Steven Brower, MD, was a particularly strong guiding light throughout treatment. “Dr. Brower dismisses this as part of his job, but it is so much more than that. The same goes for the nurses that gave me so much of their time and were so compassionate with me. Even the assistants who came in to change the bed linen were caring and empathetic,” Swiderski says.

The feeling is mutual. His medical oncologist, Minaxi Jhawer, MD, says, “It was such a pleasure to take care of Stephen. He always had a smile and positive attitude. We were able to navigate through the chemotherapy without any issues. I feel proud to have been part of his team, as we worked with the physicians, the patient navigator, nutritionist, and other staff to get Stephen through his care.”

Now that he is on the other side of this cancer, he plans on returning to the life that he knows and loves. He’s already set plans for trips to Portugal, Spain, and Malta. Swiderski found that when you finish cancer treatment, you have to regain your life — and return to it a smarter, wiser, and more aware person.

“And I can’t say enough about Englewood Health. You’re not just a number there. You’re a person, you’re a face, you’re Steve.”

Posted January 3, 2019

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bile duct cancer cancer Minaxi Jhawer