• Pancreatectomy for IPMN
• Six years later, Whipple for stage II pancreatic cancer
• Brief course of chemotherapy
When I was 71, I was diagnosed and treated for an intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (IPMN), a type of pancreatic tumor that starts out benign but normally eventually becomes cancerous. I went from my home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. On October 28, 2002 I underwent a distal subtotal pancreatectomy with Dr. Douglas Evans. (He has since left MD Anderson for Wisconsin.) In addition to the tail of the pancreas, my spleen, gall bladder, and appendix were also removed. I went back to MD Anderson for periodic scans.
Benign IPMN Returns, With a Bad Surprise
I felt fine but in 2008, when I was 77, the scans showed enlargement of the ducts in the head of the pancreas, indicating return of the IPMN. I was told that no one would do a Whipple procedure to remove the rest of the pancreas after I was 80, so I requested one then. I went back to MD Anderson and had a Whipple procedure with Dr. Evans.
After the surgery we got the pathology results. I was officially diagnosed with stage II adenocarcinoma in the pancreas and in three out of the 23 external lymph nodes that had been removed. This was a serious surprise for all of us.
Once I recovered from surgery I started chemotherapy with gemcitabine. However, I had three acute congestive heart failure episodes in two months, so I refused further chemotherapy.
I have been left with minor digestive system problems, but otherwise I am doing well. I feel I am very fortunate, and am glad to be able to share my story at age 86.