Danny Soto was no stranger to fear. In his work as a firefighter, he faced it every day. But nothing scared him more than cancer, the disease that had taken the life of his father — and now threatened his own. When Danny was diagnosed with an aggressive and complex colon cancer, the first hospital that treated him left the strong, capable firefighter and weightlifter weak, sick, and unhappy. Then Danny came to MSK.
Surgical oncologist Martin Weiser recognized that Danny’s case needed special care. Danny’s tumor had broken through the abdominal wall and invaded surrounding organs, and required a delicate and extensive operation to remove. Thinking ahead, Dr. Weiser and the rest of Danny’s team planned out his surgeries in a way that would minimize his recovery time and give him the best chance at success.
- Danny was the third person in his family to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
- His case was extremely complex, with tumors spreading beyond his colon.
- The MSK team performed a detailed surgery to remove the cancer that included intraoperative radiation therapy.
- Danny has Lynch syndrome, a hereditary condition that made him vulnerable to this kind of cancer.
- Dr. Weiser and Danny’s care team came up with a plan to manage that as well.
- Today, Danny is back to work as a firefighter.
- Danny’s story even inspired many of his fellow firefighters to undergo colonoscopies.
Perhaps most innovatively, Dr. Weiser also spared Danny additional chemotherapy and radiation by using intraoperative radiation — a strategy that allowed Danny to receive a more powerful and precise dose of radiation during the surgery to remove his cancer.
Danny’s team extended beyond Dr. Weiser. He received the specialized expertise of Jonathan Coleman, a urologic surgeon, and Abraham Wu, a radiologist. Zsofia Stadler, a geneticist and oncologist who helped come up with a plan to manage Danny’s Lynch syndrome — the hereditary condition that caused the cancer — was also an important part of Danny’s experience.
Today, Danny is cancer free with no evidence of disease. He only visits MSK once every six months for follow-up care. And most amazingly, the MSK team didn’t just save Danny’s life. They saved his livelihood — by allowing him to get back to being a firefighter.
In 2013, Hoboken firefighter, Danny was diagnosed with complex colon cancer. This is his story.