Survivor Stories
December 27, 2022 • 2 Min

It Started With Acid Reflux

James Arnott

pancreatic cancer patient James Arnott
  • Acid reflux and inability to eat
  • Stage III pancreatic adenocarcinoma
  • Whipple procedure
  • No pain treatment after surgery

It started with acid reflux and an inability to eat. Who knew I’d end up with an eight-hour surgery merely a month later?

Allow me to start from the beginning…

It was mid-October 2022. I thought I had a bad case of acid reflux that was preventing me from eating. My general practitioner suspected there was something more going on. He ordered a CT scan at Westchester Medical Center (WMC) in Valhalla, New York, a two-hour drive from my home in Wurtsboro, New York. There was a mass in my abdomen, which was diagnosed as stage III pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

Surgery to Treat

Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is cancer that begins with cells that line certain internal organs (in my case, the pancreas) and have gland-like properties. My diagnosis came on October 30 and my life has been a whirlwind since then.

The leading surgeon at WMC, Dr. Gregory Veillette, said I was a candidate for the Whipple procedure, which removes part of the stomach, the duodenum, the head of the pancreas, part of the bile duct, the gallbladder, and lymph nodes. It is a hefty surgery and I was ready for it.

Opting for No Post-Op Pain Medication

I underwent eight hours of surgery in November. During the recovery I opted only to take Tylenol for pain management. I haven’t taken any pain treatment since being released from the hospital. While I was afraid that I would lose control of my functions, I was lucky to have my “natural plumbing” restored fairly quickly. The slight inconvenience of adult diapers during that time was tolerable.

Now I am five weeks post-op and am scheduled for my first chemo consult in a few weeks. I am grateful to be sharing my story so that I can give hope to others facing the same situation. The quick actions of my doctors and the miracle of medical science saved my life. This journey has given me hope and appreciation for my remaining life.

I am 74 years old and plan on being around for a long time to come.

As a semi-retired consultant, author, public speaker, communications specialist, and more, pancreatic cancer isn’t going to slow me down anytime soon!

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