After a number of people asked if I lost weight, weighing myself and realizing I had lost 45 pounds, and my hairdresser mentioning my eyes were yellow, I immediately made my first doctor appointment. My doctor also noticed my skin color, as I was jaundiced. The blood work showed that my bilirubin was over 600 and my blood sugar was over 450. Well, I guess the doctor was right when she told me she wasn't going to let me go home. They took a CT scan and found a mass attached to my pancreas.
That was May 16, 2012. I went home only knowing there was a mass attached to my pancreas, and praying it wasn't cancer. The next day my regular doctor told us it was cancer, with an attitude that I was a goner. But my journey with this disease had just started!
Trying to cope with this disease has been a long adventure. I don't think I've seen so many doctors and been to so many hospitals and had so many surgeries in my lifetime. I had several surgeries and procedures to insert stents, perform biopsies, and to have my gallbladder taken out - six all together and all in the month of June. I finally started chemotherapy in July and continued with my 12 full cycles until the end of December. The side effects and “chemo brain” from all the drugs, along with a reoccurring bacterial infection (which at times had me hospitalized and loaded up with antibiotics), made for a very interesting time. I even lost all my hair; some think bald is beautiful.
I have not had the Whipple surgery, as doctors didn't think it would be necessary at this time. We got through the last chemotherapy cycle, did another CT scan and decided to wait and see how all the chemotherapy worked before moving on. Around the same time, in April 2013, I had another visitor of some sort that had me hospitalized for three days, with lots of antibiotics again. I guess the stent got plugged and eventually cleared itself. They took another CT scan and found everything to be working.
We received the report a few days later which stated that the mass was gone or nearly non-existent! This was confirmed by my cancer doctor and his radiologist. My cancer is in remission! How someone with metastatic pancreatic cancer with the smallest survival rate can survive this terrible disease and show no sign of it being there is not only incredible, it is truly a miracle! If you believe in miracles then you have just witnessed one here.
It's not to say it couldn't come back, but we will cross that bridge when it happens. But for now it's gone and it is something we all must enjoy. This last scan certainly has taken some of the pressure off of my loved ones. At times I believe they had it harder than I did. One cannot always express thoughts for other people as this disease effects everyone differently. I cannot find the words to express the heartfelt thanks to all the doctors, nurses, family and friends and especially my wife, Kathy, who went through this with me for the last year or so.
I have another CT scan coming up and hopefully this will be positive also. The disease can run but it can't hide! Keep a positive attitude, do what you want, not what the disease wants you to do, and enjoy life to the fullest. Life is way too short to let something like this take it away from you. I am a survivor of pancreatic cancer, something to which we will never have an answer as to why, only the man upstairs has the answer to that and He's not talking! I am truly the best looking sick person you will ever meet.