Survivor Stories
June 27, 2024 • 2 Min

No Symptoms Whatsoever

Judd Levy

pancreatic cancer survivor Judd Levy
  • Pancreatic cancer found without symptoms
  • Chemo, Whipple surgery, and more chemo
  • Positive attitude helps

I discovered that I had pancreatic cancer by accident—I had no symptoms whatsoever.

In December 2018 I went to my doctor for a routine exam, and there was some blood in my urine. An endoscopy and subsequent CAT scan indicated pancreatic cancer. The official diagnosis? Stage IV pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

I Was Lucky

My family was distraught. The first person outside my family with whom I discussed my diagnosis was a urologist who was a good friend for over thirty years. He told me how lucky I was. The fact that I had no symptoms and was a candidate for Whipple surgery was very positive in his opinion. I leaned toward the positive throughout my treatment because of that initial conversation.

My oncologist, Dr. Allyson Ocean at Weill Cornell Medical Center (New York City), prescribed three months of chemotherapy, a Whipple surgery by Dr. Michael Lieberman, also at Weill Cornell, and then three more months of chemotherapy. Throughout the chemotherapy and recovery from the surgery, my wife and I would watch an episode or two of Frasier every night for 11 months. I strongly believe that maintaining a positive attitude and laughing as much as possible contributed to my successful outcome.

Five Years Since

It has been more than five years since my treatment. I am 82 years old, living in New York City, and am totally cancer-free. I have very few side effects from the treatment other than some mild neuropathy in my feet and hands. I take Creon to help with my digestion. I am eating less than I used to. I weighed 206 pounds before I was diagnosed and dropped to 176 during the chemotherapy treatment. I am now at 192 pounds and relatively stable.

For a long time I have been a recreational poker player—I played online during my recovery period. I recently played in a tournament at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas. There were 195 entries, and after 13 hours of playing I came in First and won $40,065!

Overall, I live a full and active life and travel extensively. Stay positive—it’s the best thing you can do.

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