Pancreas Cancer Web


Hi, my name is Jane and live in N.E. PA. Altho, I have not posted very often on the Hopkins board I'd like to add my bio to show people, some of us do survive ! My symptoms began five years ago, with a hard pain, deep in the middle of my abdomen. Once, I experienced this pain walking down the street. I had to grab hold of a fence to keep from falling down. I also had pain between my shoulder blades. My cast iron stomach was rebelling after eating just about anything. After several months of feeling like I had the flu all the time (and denying that something was really wrong) I began itching like crazy. Within a few days, I jaundiced. Initial diagnosis was hepititis, but after further testing the doctors suspected pancreatic cancer. I was tranferred from our local hospital to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, in Philadelphia. I do not advise anyone to take a two hour ambulance ride in the middle of a snow storm. On January 14, 1994, my Whipple procedure was performed by Drs. Frances Rosato and Donna Barbot. I cannot say enough about this facility, the doctors and their team of specialists. I was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma at the head of the pancreas with two positive lymph nodes. I spent nearly a month in the hospital. After returning home, I received 28 radiation treatments and a series of 5FU with Leucovorin. My recovery was long, slow and VERY difficult. I felt the treatments hindered my recovery. My normal weight before PC was 88 pounds. After surgery and during treatments my weight dropped below 60 pounds. (I currently, remain steady at 80 pounds as long as I am feeling well) I was unable to eat and when I did, I threw up constantly. I depended mainly on the feeding tube. 8 months later I returned to work, part time, but soon found out I was unable to keep the pace, even with reduced hours. In January 1995, I retired on Soc.Sec. disability. During these past four years (and 9 months) I have had several complications and set backs, but I have remained cancer free. I have had several bouts with pancreatitis, a bezoar (undigested ball of food - otherwise known as a "fur ball".. and "very" painful spasms in my abdomen. Sometimes I can feel one coming, other times it hits without notice. My new radiation oncologist told me (after they being a mystery for a couple years) they were "intermittant small bowel blockages". Two years ago, the "flu" landed me in the hospital for five days. Every doctor was convinced the cancer had returned. My tumor marker doubled, I spiked a fever every night and had a lot of abdominal pain. After many tests, locally, I was discharged and sent back to Jefferson. They ran a series of tests -- all inconclusive. It was noted that I had enlarged lymph nodes but we were all in agreement, we would "wait and see". Thank God it was not the cancer. It took me months to regain my strength and weight loss. My system is very "delicate" but as long as I follow a careful, low fat diet and try not to out due my body's physical limitations, I'm fine. I just don't have the stamina I once had. My tumor marker has never returned to the "normal range. It flucuates from low to mid 40's. I take Pancrease and Zantac (150 mg 2x day) Prior to my illness, I worked in a very stressful environment and was dealing with a lot of personal stress. I was a heavy smoker, drank a lot of coffee but "rarely" drank alcohol. I am a single parent to three children and recently surpassed my 45th birthday. Melissa 16, T.J. 14 and Patrick (my angel) is 12. My illness was extremely difficult on them. At that time, their father and I were seperated. He and I agreed he would come back home to help out. After a year, he left again. The children have had soo much to deal with; the boys seems to roll with it but my daughter is my heartbreaker. She has made our/my life so difficult this past year. She has been in therapy since the summer; one step forward, two steps back. She puts all the blame on me and my cancer. My youngest son and I are very close. He was only 7 years old at the time of my surgery but he was a major caregiver. He never left my side for very long and took great interest in my feeding tube. I taught him how it worked and he would be right there everytime to hook it up for me. T.J. is a walking raging hormone right now, but he is a great source of joy even if we do butt heads now and then. During that time he spent most of his time, in his room, hiding. It is only recently, he has opened up. This past year there have been many personal and financial crisis; things completely out of my control. The stess, at times, is insurmountable but I am a survivor... and have tried never to lose my sense of humor. Life is tough, but I am tougher.. I thank God everyday, for keeping me here to raise my family.

Posted 10/26/1998 09:25 am by Jane
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