The GAP Study strongly values the patient and community's perspective, engagement, experiences and understanding of their appendix cancer journey and health. Dr. Holowatyj created the Patient Advisory Council (PAC) to partner the study team with our patients so that we can:

(1) consider the highest research priorities and supportive care needs based on the patient voice, (2) improve components of the GAP Study and optimize our communication methods with patients, and (3) engage participants and increase representativeness across diverse patient groups. 

We are incredibly grateful to our current Council members for their dedication, passion, time and involvement in the GAP Study.

Richard Thoma

“On September 12th, 2023, my life changed completely.  I received the call from my Primary Care Physician that I most likely had Appendix Cancer, much to both of our surprise.  I knew I had some stomach issues, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I had cancer.  I was 29 years old, and recently completed my 3rd marathon in the last 5 years.  On paper, I was the picture of health.

From there, my journey really began.  Due to some great doctors in Phoenix, my hometown, we were introduced to Dr. Wagner at Allegheny Health in Pittsburg, PA.  After reviewing my scans and initial biopsies, he was able to gather I had low grade appendix cancer, however my spread was extensive with a 39/39 PCI.   On October 26th, I went into the Operating room for my 12+ hour CRS/HIPEC surgery, where I left missing all or part of 7 different organs within my abdominal cavity.

While the recovery was tough, the surgery was ultimately successful.  My hope joining the GAP Study Patient Advisory Board is to help be an advocate for all of us.  Through the wonderful doctors I worked with in Phoenix and Pittsburg, I was given a second chance at life, and would like to spend my days helping educate and ultimately eradicating appendix cancer.”



Stay tuned for updates and more information on our GAP PAC Chair, Members and ex-officio member(s)! We would also like to respectfully note that every individual has a unique appendix cancer journey, and we understand that not all PAC members are comfortable sharing their personal story online.

If you are a participant on the GAP Study and are interested in learning more about the Patient Advisory Council, please reach out to further discuss with the study team!