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Her Kidney Donation Plans Led to a Cancer Diagnosis

September 25, 2019
As Nancy Amato prepared to donate a kidney to her sister at the age of 48, her OB-GYN suggested getting a precautionary colonoscopy to ensure she was a viable donor. That voluntary colonoscopy (performed 2 years before the recommended age) uncovered a large mass in her colon that would later be diagnosed as Stage 2 colon cancer.

Immediately following the colonoscopy, Nancy made an appointment at GBMC, the same hospital where both of her parents received treatment when they battled cancer. While Nancy reflected on the previous 24 hours and what the next few days, months, and years would entail, she resisted the urge to feel sorry for herself, instead adopting a new mentality that she would do everything in her power to fight this cancer.

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Nancy, right, and fellow cancer survivor, Sandi
After embracing this new attitude, Nancy called the office of colon and rectal surgeon, Dr. George Apostolides, who was able to bring her in the next morning and schedule her surgery within two weeks. Nancy was committed to fighting her cancer, so when her medical oncologist Dr. Paul Celano presented her with treatment options following the successful surgery, Nancy chose the clinical trial she was eligible for and began 12 rounds of chemotherapy, occurring every other week for six months.

“The commitment from the doctors at GBMC impressed me from my first visit,” explained Nancy. “Although it might not be the answer you want to hear, the doctors will be sure to talk you through every diagnosis, prognosis, and decision – good or bad.”

Although Nancy was trying to save her sister by donating a kidney, her sister actually saved her.

Nearly nine and half years after her cancer diagnosis, Nancy has continued to give back to the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute at GBMC. As Nancy has told many of her friends, “The prep for the colonoscopy might not be pleasant, but it sure does beat 12 rounds of chemotherapy and everything else that comes along with a cancer diagnosis.”

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Nancy driving a friend in her "Colonoscopy Cab"
Nancy is now known by many for running the “Colonoscopy Cab,” where she’ll pick up her friends for their colonoscopy, wait through the procedure, treat them to lunch, and then ensure they are comfortable when they get home. Nancy understands the bother a colonoscopy might be for some, but it was a colonoscopy that saved her life. It allowed the doctors at GBMC to treat her cancer before it grew any further and gave her the opportunity to participate in future life events, like seeing her daughter graduate college.

As she has every year since 2011, Nancy will be joining GBMC staff, other cancer survivors, family, and friends at the 19th annual Legacy Chase at Shawan Downs on September 28, 2019. The day will be full of steeplechase races, food trucks, family-friendly activities, and more to benefit the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute at GBMC. Purchase your parking pass now at LegacyChase.org.

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