My name is Jill. I'm 50 years old and married to an wonderful man named Mike. I'm the mom of 3 (twin boys age 18 and a daughter age 20) with another boy (age 19) who lives with us who I also love, and I'm a part-time lawyer. My father died of pancreatic cancer (stage IV) in August 2004.
I started to have problems with diarrhea in Sept 2007. In October I went to my doctor. She ran a liver panel, which had very high results and did an abdominal scan, which showed narrowing of the bile duct, but no tumor. She said I was too young, a non-smoker and not a male, so it was unlikely to be pancreatic cancer - and PC is rarely genetic. She referred me to a gastroenterologist. The gastro. doctor did an ERCP which showed gall stones and a narrowing of the bile duct and the biopsy was inconclusive. A CA19-9 blood test was high (250ish)
He referred me to Dr. Parker for a whipple, which was done Oct. 19th 2007. The Whipple found a tumor- adenocarcinoma, stage IIA, T-3 with some parts rated 1 (well-defined =good) and some rated 3 (poorly-defined =not so good) Clean lymph nodes and no metastasis, thank heavens. Recovery was not fun, but went very well. By 4 weeks, I was 80% recovered.
I did 6 weeks of radiation (5 days a week) along with continuous (24/7) infusion of 5FU chemo. This is done by carrying a small bag around that feeds into your port. I went in to the chemo room once a week to get a new bag of 5FU.
I had a fair amount of nausea and fatigue with this regimen. The doctor told me that women who get nauseous with pregnancies (yes)were more likely to get sick with chemo. For me, daily Zofran and Emend didn't work, but Kytril did. I used Phenergen too as a supplement when the nausea got bad and I could afford to get sleepy. By the end of the 6 weeks, it was hard to walk or stand for period of time due to weakness. But within 10 days of finishing the regimen, I was feeling much stronger.
The next course of treatment was Gemzar for 6 months. We started with 7 treatments once a week with no break. This was recommended by my 2nd opinion doctor at Duke. My oncologist here thought it would be too much and she was right, I got radiation recall and spent 2 weeks in the hospital with rib pain, swelling and fever. Radiation recall is not too common so nothing for most folks to worry about.
From then on we did Gemzar weekly with 3 weeks on, 1 week off until the end. I finished Gemzar in July 2008 and now am being monitored with CA19-9s and MRIs every 2 months. So far (9 months post-diagnosis) I'm cancer-free.
At times I've been through the whole gamut of feelings about having pancreatic cancer- denial, fear, anger. But usually I feel very hopeful and strong enough to face whatever challenges come. I've always believed, and still do believe, that everything works out exactly the way it's supposed to, so that helps a lot. This discussion board has been wonderful - I've learned so much. Thanks to you all - Jill