PHILADELPHIANS have a true gem right in their own backyard: the Fox Chase Cancer Center. But its ability to deliver world-class care and conduct groundbreaking research in the hope of eliminating cancer was hurt by a recent decision to deny its efforts to expand into a small portion of Burholme Park.

I can speak to both issues firsthand as a former patient of this outstanding center.

Moving halfway across the country with two small children for a husband's new job can be stressful, but our family took it in stride when we relocated to Doylestown.

This was complicated three years ago, though, when I found a lump in my breast. A subsequent mammogram confirmed that I did in fact have breast cancer, with multiple tumors in my breast and lymph nodes.

In November 2005, I underwent a single mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

I can't tell you how grateful I am that we ended up in Pennsylvania. Our kind neighbors and friends showed their support by preparing meals, decorating our house for the holidays and helping to care for my children.

Fox Chase is the other reason I'm so thankful we came to Pennsylvania. I feel blessed to have such fantastic doctors and nurses treating me. Everyone at Fox Chase is friendly and helpful, and they have the latest research and the best tools supporting their work.

The thought of missing out on being a mom was more devastating than dealing with cancer. I feel so fortunate to be alive and well today, and I owe so much to the people at Fox Chase Cancer Center for enabling this to occur. The proposed expansion at Fox Chase was in the best interests of Philadelphia, the region and all who are, or will be, affected by cancer. It is simply a shame that a small handful of people have prevented this occurring for now.

Kim Hagerich, Doylestown