- Back pain led to diagnosis
- Stage I pancreatic adenocarcinoma
- Whipple procedure
- Long-term survival
It was August 2004 and I was experiencing some serious back pain.
My doctors first thought the pain was coming from my gallbladder, so I had it removed. But the pain didn’t go away. My doctors then thought it might be my lesser omentum, the tube that connects the liver to the stomach. Whatever it was, the exact location was difficult to find. After numerous tests, including an ERCP, I was diagnosed with stage I pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
Choosing to Be Aggressive
Seeing how I was only 42 years old when I was diagnosed, my doctors and I decided to be aggressive with my treatment and go with surgery right away. I underwent a Whipple procedure followed by 30 rounds of radiation.
After that, I was able to tolerate only two weeks of chemotherapy with 5-FU, but I had to stop because the chemo was hard on my body. I could not eat for a long period of time. I was in so much pain that I needed to take painkillers. To this day I still have issues with my stomach and have trouble with my kidneys.
The doctor overseeing my care was Julie Ann Sosa. At the time she was practicing at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. Since then she has moved to the University of California San Francisco. I also moved, from the Northeast to Florida, where I now live.
After treatment ended I had scans every three months, then every six months. But after seven years, my doctor said I did not need to come back.
Despite the struggle and the issues, I am grateful that the treatment was effective. I am still here nearly 20 years later! It is now 2023. I am 63 years old and have been cancer-free for all that time. Our choice to be aggressive paid off in the end.
I have just been diagnosed.
What should I do?