“Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center has been taking care of me for almost two decades. My care team has given me a quality of life that I never dreamed possible. My family supports Penn and participates in the Steps to Cure Sarcoma 5K because we want to give back to the place that gave me my life back.”
Lou Pellegrini was not well, but no one could tell him why. After a three-year odyssey filled with misdiagnoses and unnecessary surgeries, he finally found himself at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) under the care of Doug Fraker, MD.
“I was in a lot of pain and at my wits’ end when finally a family practitioner sent me to Penn Medicine,” explained Mr. Pellegrini. “Thank God for Dr. Fraker and his team, which includes Ann Currens, RN, MSN, CRNP. They were able to give me answers and take care of me when no one else could.”
Finally Getting Answers
Dr. Fraker diagnosed Mr. Pellegrini with liposarcoma, a rare cancer of connective tissues, which ran down the entire right side of his body—from his chest down his abdomen and into his pelvis. Two weeks and an extensive operation later, he was on the road to recovery.
Liposarcoma cannot be treated with chemotherapy and as such, Mr. Pellegrini has undergone 5 surgeries at Penn. He received traditional radiation and proton therapy at Penn’s Roberts Proton Therapy Center when his cancer recurred after a 10-year remission.
When Mr. Pellegrini was diagnosed in 2000, he was a young, newly married father with a 3-month-old daughter. Now his daughter is a junior in college, and he has two sons who are seventeen and fifteen—and a deep admiration and respect for everyone who helped him on his cancer journey, from his family to the doctors and researchers who work behind the scenes.
“I have to give a lot of credit to my wife, Stacey. In the beginning, and for the better part of a year, she took care of both me and our infant daughter,” he said. “Without her, I don’t know how I would have gotten through it. When I look back, and look ahead to all we have to look forward to, I know I am a very lucky man.”
Mr. Pellegrini began to support Penn’s Sarcoma Program after attending a Sarcoma Discovery Lunch with Kristy Weber, MD, along with ACC Director Chi V. Dang, MD, PhD. They helped inspire him to participate in the 2015 Steps to Cure Sarcoma 5K where he met Malay Haldar, MD, PhD, whose research is informing targeted therapies for sarcoma.
“The event was a catalyst to our support of the Sarcoma Program Fund. After meeting Dr. Haldar and speaking more with Dr. Weber, I was inspired by their enthusiasm and vision. I have seen Penn evolve over almost twenty years. The care has always been excellent, but when you think it can’t get better—it does. We give because we want our family to help make their vision a reality.”
Mr. Pellegrini is not the only one drawing motivation from the Steps to Cure Sarcoma event—the grassroots effort had around 200 attendees and raised just over $30,000 in its inaugural year in 2015. The group’s June 2019 event more than tripled their outcome with roughly 1,500 attendees and more than $135,000 raised—every penny of which goes to support the collaborative research efforts between Penn Medicine, Penn Veterinary, and CHOP.
Ryan K.Sarcoma Survivor / Read Story
“The opportunity to volunteer at CHOP will also be a healing experience for me too, to show others that there is life after cancer.”
Lou P.Sarcoma Survivor / Read Story
“Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center has been taking care of me for almost two decades. My care team has given me a quality of life that I never dreamed possible.”
Paulette W.Sarcoma Survivor / Read Story
“Dr. Weber has been a blessing to us over and over again. She saved my life.”
Arianne M.Sarcoma Survivor / Read Story
“I’ve always been a fighter, and with Penn by my side I overcame the biggest obstacle in my life.”
Megan D.Sarcoma Survivor / Read Story
“A positive attitude goes an incredibly long way. I was diagnosed with a one in a million cancer, but now I am one more survivor.”
Frank C.Sarcoma Survivor / Read Story
“Live life to the fullest because you never know what life can throw at you.”
Tracey F.Sarcoma Survivor / Read Story
“I felt so supported and so taken care of from the second I walked into Penn, and by every person in my life, from my family to my friends to my employees.”
Lindasy H.Sarcoma Survivor / Read Story
"To be part of Steps to Cure Sarcoma that connects people who are affected by sarcoma and directly raises funds for research to fight the disease is incredible.”