A Whipple was necessary, and performed on August 11, 2004. The tumor involved the superior mesenteric artery and the margins were not good. The head of the pancreas, gallbladder, duodenum, and a pinch of stomache was removed. Also had positive margins in one of four lymph nodes. I was released from the hospital 8 days later with a very determined attitude towards chemo and radiation therapy, in addition to some major nutritional changes.
Prior to my diagnosis I was into Pilates and a minimum of 30 minutes a day of weight training. I lost my husband three years ago to a major heart attack and at that time I promised my kids I would take better care of myself with diet and exercise. I also quit smoking then. So I think my physical fitness accounted for the ease with which I recovered from surgery. I began walking on the treadmill a week after I got home (three weeks after surgery). Not fast mind you, but for 10 minutes at a time. It was great therapy. Helped the appetite too.
I started chemo/radiation therapy (Gemzar weekly, radiation daily) on Sept. 13th, 2004. I had a lung collapse two weeks later (believed to have been 'knicked' during port placement). Restarted chemo/radiation two weeks later. I tolerated treatment fairly well with the help of nutrients and Zofran. I'll list the nutrients I take at the end of this bio if I haven't bored you stiff by then.
Received my last chemo and radiation on November 11th three months after my Aug. 11th surgery (are you seeing an '11' pattern here :) Waited 3 weeks before having a CAT scan, and the CAT was good. I returned to work on Dec. 11th. (There's that 11 again). I work 4 days a week, 10 hours a day. I now walk a minimum of 2 miles a day, most days. My dog demands it. I care for my 82 year old mother, who remains blissfully ignorant of pancreatic cancer. My sisters and I believe its in my and her best interest to keep her that way.
Because of a section on the CAT scan that was 'believed to be scar tissue', I opted for a PET scan. The anxiety over the so called scar tissue was driving me nuts. Had the PET scan which proved to be unremarkable. After the CAT, PET, CA-19 of 5 - my oncologist finally used the word remission. It was the first time since diagnosis I have actually cried. I literally sobbed!
I know this is a lifetime battle, but I will use every weapon in my arsenal to fight this disease. For those of you that have asked here is my regime.
Diet: I eat mainly vegetables and fruit and supplement with fish, turkey and chicken. I found it works for me. I have no digestion problems. I have an evening slush made with Flax oil, cottage cheese, and what ever fresh fruit I have on hand. I drink mostly water, green tea, and 2oz a day of Essiac. My desert to satisfy that sweet tooth is normally apple slices with peanut butter. (peanut butter is my weakness but its listed as 'fair' on the glycemic index. I try to adhere to a low glycemic diet since I choose to believe that sugar feeds cancer).
Nutrients: Vitamins C, B, E along with a multi. I also take CoQ10, OPC, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Reishi/Shiitake, Mega Zyme, Milk Thistle, Astrgalus, Acidophilus PB8, and Wobenzym. I know this sounds like over kill - but I work with a nutionalist and herbalist. I have major energy, am gaining weight at about 2-4 lbs. a month, and feel wonderful.
Exercise: I walk daily a minimum of two miles. I do light pilates. I go to Yoga (beginners) twice a week. I'm learning to meditate and use guided imagery. The relaxation is wonderful. I also believe it helped me tremendously getting through chemo and radiation.
Hydro-therapy: I have a pool and hot tub. Had this pre-cancer. I now use the hot tub more than I ever used to. Not swimming yet as the pool is not heated and even in Arizona it's too cold!
Faith/Spirituality: While I don't subscribe to any one religion, I believe whole heartedly in prayer and spirituality. I believe God has a plan for all of us, sometimes we just don't know what it is. And right now especially, he's a very big part of my life.
I guess you can see by now that I believe in some alternative methods of treatment, and used them in conjuction with traditional therapy. It has worked well for me and even though my oncologist didn't always agree, even he is willing to say 'continue whatever it is that you are doing'. I don't advocate any one treatment or therapy for anyone else except to believe in a higher being and put your trust in him. I will continue to pray for each and everyone of us afflicted with this beast.
With my job and 'raising' my mother, I haven't been blessed with another companion in my life to date, so I derive much of my support from the JH website. I don't post often, but am inspired by many of you daily.
Thanks for reading this.