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I'm 38 years old and was diagnosed with pc on June 10, 1998. Symptoms that
led me to seek medical care were minor. The most severe and unrelenting was
upper abdomen and back pain, constant, for about 3 - 4 weeks. At first the
doctor thought that I had gallstones, but a sonogram showed no gallstones and
a dialated bile duct. She referred me to a GI, but before my appointment, I
became jaundiced and saw the GI a few days early. He thought that a
gallstone had gotten into the bile duct and blocked it. He scheduled an
ERCP, the goal being to go in, and take out the stone. I was really scared.
Three years before my father was diagnosed with bile duct cancer and passed
away 6 weeks after he was diagnosed, and I just knew that I was going to end
up having the same thing. Even the symptoms I had were the same. During the
ERCP, the GI discovered not a stone, but a tumor in the head of the pancreas.
The next morning he did a CT Scan which confirmed the tumor. At that time I
was told that the tumor was 2 - 3 cm. in size and that it didn't look like
there was any spread. I sought care at Johns Hopkins and learned during the
initial visit that the tumor was much larger, more like 5 - 7 cm in size and
that it looked like the tumor could be invading the portal vein. An
arteriogram showed that it was definitely there, but the surgeon (Dr. Yeo)
thought that he could probably graft a vein from my leg if needed. I had the
whipple done at Johns Hopkins on June 23, 1998 (no vein grafting was needed,
but he did a lot of scraping). Several lymph nodes showed cancer. I was
released from the hospital 7 days later, but I spent about a week and a half
at my mother's house before going home to take care of myself. Seven weeks
after surgery I started radiation (5 days a week for 6 weeks) and a low dose
of 5FU chemo (continuous infusion for 6 weeks). I had very little side
effects from the radiation and chemo, although the last two weeks were rough
with some nausea, lack of appetite resulting in more weight loss, and
tiredness/lack of energy. I worked throughout the treatment, although not
full time. Since finishing the radiation and chemo (9/30/98), I've been
working full time again. I'm a divorced mom of 4 children, ages 5, 7, 12,
and 14 at the time that I was diagnosed, and I've been caring for my children
full time since recovering from surgery. I feel very good right now and am
striving to gain more weight. I will be starting "round 2" of my
treatment sometime in the middle of November, but I haven't decided what
route to take with that yet. For now I am enjoying every day and I'm
thankful for every day that I feel good! I pray for many, many more days
(years) with my children, other family and friends. I've got a wonderful,
loving support group, although I miss not having a "special"
someone to lean on and hold onto during all of this.
Posted 10/23/1998 10:50 pm by Betsy
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