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October 26, 2023

Anesthesiologist turns to Simon Cancer Center for her treatment

IU Health Simon Cancer Center

Anesthesiologist turns to Simon Cancer Center for her treatment

She’s been in the medical field for years and when Daryl Fenio learned she has a rare form of cancer, she came to a familiar hospital for treatment.

By TJ Banes, IU Health Senior Journalist,

There are many milestones in Daryl Fenio’s life. Consider that she worked toward her medical degree while mothering six children, and graduated as the mother of seven. Consider also that as an anesthesiologist she has witnessed numerous hospital procedures - some the result of a familiar diagnosis; others less common.

A graduate of Indiana University School of Medicine, Fenio has always been fascinated with medical science. “It’s always amazed me the types of things we can do in the body,” said Fenio, who grew up in California. She was a single mother of five children when she met her soon-to-be husband, Ray. At the time, Fenio was living in the state of Washington and taking classes toward a nursing degree. Ray persuaded her to become a doctor and they moved to Bloomington where he began working on a doctorate in anthropology. His wife began medical school and had her sixth child in the middle of her intensive studies.

After 20 years of practice, Fenio retired from full time work at IU Health Bloomington with a plan to split time between Indiana and California. It was in Bloomington where she had a routine colonoscopy that revealed a mucus secreting mass out of her appendix.

In July, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic mucinous abnormal carcinoma, a type of tumor of the appendix. Some research indicates that this type of cancer attributes to less than 0.5 percent of all gastrointestinal cancers.

As Fenio recently chatted with IU Health Simon Cancer Center nurse, Bailey Davis, she shared her experience with treatments. Within two weeks of diagnosis she had surgery, and began chemotherapy shortly afterward. At IU Health she is in the care of hematologist/oncologist, Dr. Paul Helft.

At first, doctors thought she might have had ovarian cancer but scans and biopsies showed otherwise.

“When I decided to split my time between San Diego and Bloomington, I had to make a decision on my health insurance. I decided if I had some catastrophic illness I wanted to be in Bloomington where all of my family lives,” said Fenio. Five of her children live near Bloomington; one lives in Chicago; and one in Nevada. She also has 12 grandchildren.

Daryl Fenio with her family

“Being close to Simon Cancer Center is a comfort. I always felt as a student coming out of medical school that I was well trained and I got my first pick at residency. IU did a great job of preparing us. I’ve never been on the other side but I feel like everyone I see is well trained,” said Fenio.

“In the grand scheme of things when I found out I had cancer, I realized I am where I need to be. I’m close to my grandchildren and the hospital system I trust.”

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