Patient Story

Fran’s Story: Harnessing the Power of Positivity and Perspective as a Cancer Patient

Fran’s Story: Harnessing the Power of Positivity and Perspective as a Cancer Patient
Cancer Type Bladder
You get more one-on-one attention in smaller settings and get to know others around you.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is often followed by feelings of fear, anxiety and heavy-heartedness. However, this has not been the case for one Meridian resident who has chosen to embrace his cancer journey and move forward with optimism.

These days, you will find Francis (Fran) Gremmo enjoying his days either in the kitchen making homemade jelly or Italian sausage with his wife Marcia or outside gardening or fishing. One couldn’t tell by simply looking at Fran that he was diagnosed with metastatic bladder cancer, which is cancer that has spread past its origin, in 2015.

Prior to his diagnosis, Fran recalls intermittently finding blood in his urine, which is when he knew something was wrong. Fran decided to take action and visit a local urologist in hopes of shedding light on the source of the problem. After several tests were performed, his doctor delivered the devastating news — Fran had bladder cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men and just over 81,000 diagnoses will be made by the end of 2022. The most common symptom of this cancer is blood in the urine, which often appears in the early stages of cancer, as well as bladder issues and irritation.

“I just remember thinking of my grandfather and how he had cancer and now, I have it,” Fran shared. “For a bit of time, I wasn’t myself and didn’t want to do a lot of things, which my wife and family wouldn’t accept.”

While unsure of the next steps, Fran and his wife were comforted by the urologist whom they had known for years. He provided insights into the diagnosis as well as recommended treatments for Fran to consider, including BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin) followed by Vicinium, which are non-invasive and common options for Fran’s cancer type.

“I feared the unknown, the uncertainty,” Marcia, Fran’s wife, explained. “He is a good man, and I didn’t want to see him go through the pain of cancer or be afraid of it.” Luckily for Fran, he was not facing his diagnosis alone. He had a strong support system in place consisting of his wife, family and friends.

Fran agreed to the treatments. However, as time went on, he was disappointed to learn that while successful at first, his cancer had returned. The urologist thought it best for Fran to see a specialist and referred him to Board-certified medical oncologist Dr. Stephanie Hodson at Gem State Cancer & Blood Specialists.

“It was during the COVID-19 pandemic, so we met with her virtually, and she was very nice and upbeat,” Fran smiled. “She listened and was very honest about my cancer and health state. I appreciated that about her.”

As a patient of Gem State, Fran considers himself lucky to have found a local oncology practice that offers the latest in personalized cancer treatments while maintaining the hometown atmosphere that he has come to appreciate when receiving his care. “You get more one-on-one attention in smaller settings and get to know others around you,” Fran shared.

After a successful first appointment, Fran decided to move forward with Dr. Hodson as his primary care physician. She brought years of experience in treating various cancers and provided individualized and attentive care that stood out to Fran and his wife. Her approach to patient care is holistic and involves treating the whole person — not just the cancer cells.

Additionally, Fran enjoys the clinic and its staff, mentioning how they each know his name. “I walk into the clinic, and a member of the staff always comes around and tells me they have a fresh pot of coffee ready for me,” Fran joked.

Fran currently receives chemotherapy once a week at Gem State as part of his treatment plan to keep his cancer under control and in remission. When asked what fuels his optimistic outlook, he mentioned that when he goes to the clinic, he sees fellow patients who have been there for hours and have gone through bags of chemo, and it is a reminder that his health could be worse.

“I’ve learned that you can’t let a diagnosis keep you down,” Fran said. “You’ve got to keep going. You can live with cancer.”

“Fran is a great example of a patient whose attitude counts and has contributed to his overall good outcome,” Dr. Hodson stated. “He has been a joy to care for and the team really enjoys caring for him.”

Read More Patient Stories