Survivor Stories
July 13, 2021 • 2 Min

Going Two Rounds Against Pancreatic Cancer

Anthony Del Russo

pancreatic cancer patient Anthony DelRusso
  • Back and stomach pain after a cardiac procedure leads to discovery of pancreatic cancer
  • Chemotherapy, a Whipple, and more chemo
  • Recurrence leads to a full pancreatectomy and radiation

In early 2013, I started having stomach problems and back pain after having clogged arteries cleared.

I told my primary care doctor, who started the ball rolling, and quick. He sent me to get an ultrasound that same day. The next day I met with Dr. Fiore DeVito, a gastroenterologist, who said that the ultrasound showed something that looked cancerous. He suggested I get an endoscopy, which confirmed that it was stage II pancreatic cancer.

I contacted Dr. Marson Davidson, a surgeon at Hackensack University Medical Center, in Hackensack, New Jersey, not too far from my home in Newark. Dr. Davidson sent me to Dr. Martin Gutierrez, an oncologist there. The two doctors got together and laid out what they agreed was the best course of treatment for me: 12 weeks of chemotherapy, then a Whipple procedure, followed by approximately 12 more weeks of chemotherapy. In May 2013 I began chemotherapy with a drug cocktail, and in October I had my surgery. About a month after surgery, I began my second chemotherapy, again with a drug cocktail.

I handled the chemotherapy pretty well. My side effects were not too severe—a little discomfort, sweats, some loose bowel movements, and some thinning of my hair. After my surgery I needed enzyme pills to help with digestive distress. Some time after the surgery I had to have a hernia repaired.

The Cancer Recurs

I had regular follow-ups with my doctors, and in 2018 the pancreatic cancer came back. This time I had a total pancreatectomy, which was followed up with 18 radiation treatments. Because my pancreas was removed I became diabetic and had to start taking insulin.

Life Now

Because of the recurrence I have kept my port. Every six weeks I go to the cancer center for a port flush. I also have regular follow-up visits with my doctors. Every three months I also see Dr. Gutierrez; approximately twice a year I see Dr. Davidson; every three to six months I see Dr. DeVito; and every three months I see Dr. Adriana Katz, my endocrinologist, who I call my sugar doctor.

I am here because of GREAT Doctors, LOVE, the prayers of family and friends, and last but by no means least the guidance and love of my Lord.

Watch Anthony tell his story in “Embrace All the Good Things.”

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