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My husband and I have only been married for 2 years - we were both divorced for many years and our (4)kids are grown and are successful and in good health. We had only been married for about nine months when Jerry began having back pain (occasional) and losing weight. We thought he was on his feet too much at work, and not eating enough. Looking back on it, we should have paid more attention to these symptoms. He put off going to the doc about his back for two months (just like a man!) Family doc and orthopedic surgeon could not find anything wrong, so upper and lower GI series were ordered. But, pain got worse and kept him up many nights, so I finally took him to the ER when he had a really bad night. They found a mass in his pancreas with an ultrasound, called in a GI, ordered a needle biopsy, but did not get good results. He got very ill and passed out from all the trauma and barium he had to drink so was hopitalized for 3 days, at which time they did another cat scan biopsy, and on Nov. 3, 1997, they diagnosed him with adenocarcinoma of the pancreas. Our current oncologist visited him in the hospital, even before they had the biopsy results. She sent us to a surgeon on Nov. 7, he spent 1 1/2 hours with us explaining the cat scan films and Jerry's options. Since Jerry is young (56 at that time) and in otherwise good health, he said he would try surgery but did not think it would be resectable. On Nov. 14, they performed surgery - I thought it would last several hours, but after just 2 hours, the doc came out and said the tumor was wrapped around the mesentary and widespread throughout the pancreas and could not be removed, He said he did a nerve block in the celiac plexus, removed the gall bladder, closed off the duodenum (to help him later down the line), and reattached the stomach on the other side of the intestines. He also placed a portacath for chemo in the upper left chest. Jerry was in the hospital for 18 days - it was a difficult recovery and he would not eat. Finally, the onc. started him on Megace and 2 days later he was home. The insurance co. sent out a nutritionist who gave us many hints. On Dec. 5, he had another nerve block by an anesthesiologist here in town, since the one during surgery was not effective - this one was VERY effective. He had no more back pain until this past month, as the old nerve block was starting to wear off. (Last week, he had another one done and NO MORE PAIN.) On Dec. 9, chemo was started - Gemzar - the onc said it was the best she had. He had very few side effects from that - mostly fatigue. He never had to miss a treatment due to low blood counts or anything. He was also in a clinical trial for Marimistat. He had a cat scan every two months thanks to British Biotech and did great until May of this year. The onc said the chemo was no longer working - it was spreading more to the small intestines and the bowel loop. She started him on a regimen called FAM - 5FU, Adriamycin, and Mitomycin, given in a cycle I cannot keep track of! He has chemo two Mondays in a row then is off for 2 weeks - this gives him a good break and time for blood counts to return to normal. Had another cat scan in Sept. and NO CHANGE! The FAM has allowed him to remain stable, so far. He became jaundice in June, and had a metal stent placed in his bile duct, since the tumor was obstructing it. He contracted a bad bacterial infection in the hospital and was pretty sick for about a week, but was fortunate enough to have an infectious disease doc take over his care, and he recovered nicely. He takes quite a few medications - 3 Pancrease with each meal, Phazyme, vitamins, CoQ10, Vit. E & B50, Restoril and Sinequan for sleep, Questran and Lomotil for diarrhea, and other stuff for digestive trouble as needed. Jerry has been on full Social Security benefits since June of this year (we applied in December), and is trying to liquidate his business and get his affairs in order, since he understands that this is a fatal illness. Sorry, but I had to say it. I believe it is not justifiable for adults to pretend otherwise - does not give them a chance to say and do everything they have to do or want to do. Jerry was in denial for about five months, and he lost a lot of precious time and made some unwise decisions. Now, he is in full mental control, but I see him getting weaker, losing his appetite, having more bad days than good ones. I do not know if this is the cancer or 10 months of chemo, but he is definitely not feeling as well as he did earlier this year! We feel sad, scared, confused, angry, but we laugh, argue, visit our kids, clean house, go to work, plant flowers, buy clothing, just like everyone else. He has, however, with the help of Dr. Aleda Toma, Dr. Robert Arnold, and Dr. Michael Burdine, beaten most of the odds and will pass the one year mark of his diagnosis soon. Also, we will hopefully be traveling to Los Angeles in less than three weeks for the J.H. Fundraiser - it has given Jerry another goal to reach! God bless all who suffer from this terrible disease, including my friends Gail and Linda, whose mothers are also both ill with pancreatic cancer. If you need further info., please feel free to e-mail me at the above address. Praying for all those who suffer needlessly.

Posted 10/19/1998 03:56 pm by Adrienne
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