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Survivor Story: Jennifer Peelman


Two years ago, my life abruptly stopped when a visit to the ER for suspected food poisoning resulted in a week long hospital visit because a tumor was found on my pancreas.  I had been working in oncology research for five years at that point and was fortunate enough to be able to have a trusted colleague and friend become my own personal oncologist.  I was diagnosed with a rare neuroendocrine tumor and surgery was the only option for me.  I had surgery in December 2007 to remove half of my pancreas and all of the local lymph nodes. My spleen also had to be removed because the tumor was affecting its blood supply and could not be salvaged.

Many people consider cancer to be the worst case scenario.  In fact, one of my best friends, a nurse, threw-up when she heard my news.  I do not minimize the effects of cancer at all - not only have I witnessed it on the job, but now, first hand.  However, I can honestly say that my experience with pancreatic cancer has been one of the best experiences in my entire life.  Throughout the diagnosis, surgery and recovery, I experienced the love of God in ways deeper than I had ever experienced it before.  My fast-paced, hectic life was paused and unimportant things were put aside.  I was able to remember the important things in life - God, family, friends, and self-care.  This brought back to life more than just my physical life, but also restored to me a dream that I had killed in my heart years earlier - a dream of practicing medicine.  Since then, I've enrolled in Physician Assistant school and am on my way to becoming a practitioner.  I am thankful for this realignment in my plans and purposes.  I am thankful for the incredible love and support from family and friends. I have a Pancreatic Cancer Action Network purple ribbon keychain and "Pancreatic Cancer Survivor" pin as reminders for myself  of all the miracles in my life.

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