Shel Basch Gastric Cancer Patient Story

Shel Basch in a suit

Shel Basch, 71, moved to Pittsburgh two and a half years ago to be closer to his family; his daughter is a professor at Duquesne and his son-in-law is a pediatric cardiologist at UPMC Children’s hospital.
With family history of esophageal cancer, Shel has always been diligent about getting his routine colonoscopies and endoscopies. Unfortunately, in 2021, his doctors found an abnormality in his stomach, and after a rush of tests and biopsies, Shel was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic gastric cancer.

“I was blindsided because I didn’t have any symptoms before this news,” Shel said. “I took a minute to come to terms with this diagnosis, and then buckled down to face treatment head on.”

Shel is extremely faithful and didn’t want sympathy or tears, rather prayers and faith for his life and to help guide the doctors treating him. He put his trust in Melanie Ongchin, MD, FACS, and Neal Spada, MD, and their teams to do their best to treat him. After six rounds of chemotherapy, Shel underwent cytoreductive surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemoperfusion (CRS/HIPEC), a specialized surgery which combines removing any visible tumor followed by heated chemotherapy to treat any microscopic cancer cells.  

Shel took this intense treatment in stride and was made comfortable by the caring UPMC staff after his surgery. After a 15-day hospitalization he returned to his home in the North Hills to recuperate.

“If this had to happen, I am thankful I was diagnosed and treated in Pittsburgh by UPMC,” he said.

Shel is grateful for his family, especially his wife, and friends for their support through his cancer journey. Now, Shel is cancer-free, feels great, and can eat normally despite having 2/3 of his stomach removed. As a retired electrician of 40 years, he lives a busy life and enjoys spending time with his community of friends in Gibsonia who have become family, and his 9 and 6-year-old grandchildren, who gave him strength to fight cancer. “It was great to beat this to get to live this life.”

The charismatic 71-year-old said he has been positive his entire life, but battling cancer has made him appreciate life even more. “Don’t sweat the small stuff, there are bigger things to worry about.”


Shel’s treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.