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Hi Everyone, I've just turned 44 and live in Perth, West Australia. I have 3 beautiful teenagers, a caring partner,fantastic sister, and elderly parents, who have taught me amongst other things...endurance. Towards the end of Feb '00 I had a constant pain in upper abdomen, discomfort when I sat down, and getting worse as the day progressed. Off to my family Dr who thought I may have gallstones or something wrong with my liver. Blood tests were ordered every second day, CT and ultrasounds were also done. No gallstones were found and liver function tests were normal. By the 25th Feb I was told not to return to work as hepatitis was suspected, my urine was dark, stools were pale, eyes and skin were turning a nice shade of the 29th Feb I was unbearably itchy, and liver function tests were still normal! My Dr asked a colleague for his opinion and both Drs thought I should see a specialist, which my partner and I did the next day.(Mar 1st) The specialist didn't think it could be hepatitis, maybe a gallstone blocking the bile duct, which could give the same symptoms. He ordered an ERCP which confirmed their was something blocking the bile duct, but it wasn't a gallstone, so a temporary stent was put in to relieve my symptoms. This worked like magic, at least I wasn't itchy, and the yellow colour started to dissapear. Back to the specialist on the 7th Mar, a little bit happier, but he wanted to find out exactly what was blocking the bile duct and ordered an EUS for the 10th Mar. He explained it could be pancreatitis or possibly a growth on the pancreas...both of which aren't good! The Dr performing the EUS saw me after the procedure and said they had found a small 2cm mass/growth, at the head of the pancreas. Back to the specialist on the 15th Mar to find out what happens next....he explained that it may be cancerous, at this stage all I could think of was getting it out. The specialist rang a surgeon who had done this surgery many times before and an appointment was made for that same afternoon. He told us the statistics...with the disease, and with the whipple operation. They weren't good to say the least. I asked him what he could do for me, and his reply was that I was a good candidate for the Age, no previous health problems, position and size of growth. But, even though 2cm is small, it was as big as he wanted it to he advised I have chemo/radiation before the whipples to contain the growth to the same area, and possibly shrink it. This idea made sense to my partner and myself. We saw the radiologist to discuss what happens in his field but he wasn't too happy to procede unless he knew for sure that this growth was malignant...with a biopsy being done. My surgeon had told me previously that a biopsy would be done at the time of operation directly into the avoid the possibility of trekking. A conference was held with the radiologist, oncologist and surgeon...and every-one agreed to go with the surgeon. Planning was scheduled for radiation on the 30th Mar, a more permanent stent was put in on the 3rd last the distance...and my first oncologist's visit was on the 4th Apr. My partner, my sister, and I asked the oncologist all our questions...with me saying when do I start..he said "today". So me being thankful and the other two being unprepared... I had my first dose of Gemzar through an IV drip over an hour. This happened every Tuesday for 3 weeks,one week off, then on the 2nd Apr I started the 5FU constant infusion via port, with radiation, lasting for 5 weeks.(4 beams of radiation hitting the tumor at different angles) The main effect this treatment had on me was tiredness, I managed to maintain my weight through-out. Blood tests and X/rays that were being done weekly showed everything was going along fine, Chemo/rad finnished on the 8th June.We went on a much deserved holiday..before the next step began. My whipples operation was scheduled on the 4th July...after an 8 hour operation, I was back in my room. Results were that chemo/rad contained the tumor to the same spread, and it had also killed off the tumor...pathology could only find inflamed cells in the growth...I was told this was the best possible outcome, as all tumors that are like mine are malignant. Recovery was one of the hardest things for me to deal with..pain,learning how to eat again. I came home on the 18th July and couldn't get out of bed for long periods of time. Was re-admitted to hospital on the 1st Aug with a small abcess/infection...put on a high dose of antibiotics through an IV...this lasted for 22 days..I went from 65kgs down to 50kgs, couldn't eat, walk far, skin and bone! I managed to leave hospital on my birthday, be there to celebrate my son's 21st, both daughters turning 19,and my sister's 40th. Recovery is a long slow process, I have started back at my "old Job" (nov 1st) on a very casual basis... and leave when I need too! I look back at this year and don't know how I did it...but will be forever grateful to my team of Doctors, support and help from my very close family, my work colleagues and friends who always sent flowers, cards and rang...just to see how I was doing.....I received inner strength to look for the positives in amongst all the negatives, I live for today, and enjoy it, rain hail or stress, no rushing! For any-one else going through this themselves or with a loved one...never give up hope....Glenyse

Posted 11/11/2000 07:12 pm by Glenyse
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