- Family history of pancreatic cancer
- Annual screenings lead to early detection
- Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation
- Ten-year survival
Although I am not currently undergoing any treatment, here is my story. If anyone would like to contact me via email or phone, I would be available to speak with any patient or family member, at any time.
Vigilance Due to Family History
Due to a family history of pancreatic cancer, I underwent an annual endoscopic ultrasound as a precautionary measure. In 2006, a 2-cm tumor was found on my pancreas.
The gastroenterologist was Dr. Stavros Stavropolous. At that time, he was at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in northern Manhattan. A few years ago, he became the chief of gastroenterology at Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, NY.
Surgery, Then Chemotherapy and Radiation
After the diagnosis, Dr. John Chabot, also at Columbia, performed a complete pancreatectomy, removing the pancreas, spleen, and other organs. Due to some mini-metastases that were found, it was suggested that I undergo a course of chemotherapy.
My course of chemotherapy was managed by Dr. William Sherman, also at Columbia, who has since retired. The protocol Dr. Sherman prescribed was a combination of gemcitabine, Taxotere, and Xeloda. Remember, that was 10 years ago and perhaps there are newer protocols being used today.
I was very fortunate to experience moderate, not severe, side effects, which included:
• Loss of some hair
• Swollen legs
• Thickening nails
Toward the end of the six-month cycle of chemotherapy, Dr. Sherman prescribed a course of radiation therapy, concurrent with the chemo. The radiation was done locally, for six weeks. Aside from overwhelming tiredness toward the end of the therapy, no significant side effects were experienced.
Living as a Survivor
My insurance partially covered my surgery, and Dr. Chabot’s office was very kind in providing a more reasonable rate. The insurance did not cover the chemotherapy, but did cover the radiation.
Howard passed away in December 2017 due to unrelated causes. We offer our deepest sympathy to his family, and appreciate that he shared his story with us.