When Jennifer Wasser of Hoboken, NJ, gave birth to her son nine weeks early via Caesarean section in October 2019, doctors attributed the early birth to hypertension (high blood pressure) and elevated liver enzymes that appeared late in the pregnancy.
But even after she visited a general practitioner in early January 2020 for a physical and a follow up to the hypertension, Jennifer’s physician discovered that her liver enzymes were even more elevated, likely never having normalized following her son’s birth.
“After a few weeks of subsequent testing and persistence on the part of my gastroenterologist, I was connected with Dr. Reem Sharaiha at Weill Cornell in the hopes that she would shed light on my mystery liver issue,” Jennifer recalls.
It was only a week later that Dr. Sharaiha performed a procedure that identified the tumor in Jennifer’s bile duct. And then she received her diagnosis—cholangiocarcinoma—from Dr Sharaiha and Karim Halazun, MD, assistant attending surgeon, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and associate professor of surgery, Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University.
“There are not enough words to adequately describe the tenderness with which all of the essential information was shared with my husband and me,” Jennifer says. “We were three months into parenthood, and the thought of our son not having his mother raise him was unfathomable….They greeted our shock and panic with the greatest sense of calm and assurance.”
Jennifer’s liver resection/gallbladder removal surgery took place eight days after her diagnosis.
“Dr. Halazun was patient, thorough and confident while ensuring that we understood what I was embarking on in the days leading up to and the actual day of my surgery,” Jennifer remembers. “I was taken care of by what I can only describe as healthcare angels. Every person was sincerely empathetic and kind.”
The best news came four days after surgery, Jennifer says, when she and her husband learned that her margins and lymph nodes were clear of cancer, and that the plan for adjuvant chemotherapy would take effect six weeks later.
Jennifer adds, “We often reflect at home on our gratitude and my good fortune to have been at this hospital, under the care of Dr. Halazun and his amazing team. I am now in my second-to-last round of chemo….We are hopeful and confident that I have many healthy years ahead.”