Pancreas Cancer Web


I was 39yrs old when I was diagnosed with PC in Dec. 1998.I am a labor & delivery nurse,single,working full-time in a hospital in Roseville,CA.I had been having upper abdominal & back pain for 2 wks. not relieved by Prilosec (I was hoping maybe it was an ulcer).Luckily,my best friend is an OB/GYN Dr. & her office manager got me in to see a GI specialist joking with his nurse that I "was dying of pain".This Dr. scheduled me for an abdominal ultrasound the next day-both of thinking maybe it was my gallbladder.Ultrasound showed a perfectly healthy gallbladder,but a 4-5cm mass on my pancreas.The GI guy(Dr. Matsuyama)ordered a serum amylase & lipase to check for pancreatitis.Both were very elevated.Because of the mass,he ordered an abdominal CT scan for next day.Because of the pancreatitis,he had me admitted the day of the CT scan for treatment with IV fluids & nothing by mouth.The CT scan confirmed a pancreatic mass(but said it was only 3-4cm)& a needle biopsy by CT scan was scheduled for the next day.The biopsy was positive for adenocarcinoma of the pancreas.I stayed in the hospital for a couple more days for Rx. of the pancreatitis & then went to stay with my dad @ his house for awhile.I just want to say right now that had I not had all the "connections" in the healthcare field through friends & my profession that I'm sure I would not have been moved thru the system so rapidly & efficiently & thus wouldn't have been diagnosed so soon.When I went home to my dad's it was 12/21/98.Thanks to my OB/GYN friend Mildred,I was scheduled for a Whipple Procedure with a highly recommended surgeon @ UCSF on 1/4/99.(by the way,the tumor was in the head of my pancreas).Unfortunately,when they got in,the tumor was found to be 6-7cm in size & wrapped around my portal vein & the surgeon felt it too risky to attempt resection.He did do a gastrojejunostomy(intestinal by-pass)because the tumor was impinging on my duodenum,making it difficult for me to eat.He also took my gallbladder & appendix.After recovering for a few weeks & looking @ different options,I started 6wks radiation with 5-FU & leukovorin.These were the worst 6wks of my life!I had extreme nausea & vomiting,diarrhea & went from 126lbs to 106.On top of all this,I developed severe depression(which I later discovered was due to my going into menopause because my ovaries were radiated so I had no estrogen).The good news was that the radiation had shrunk the tumor to less than 1cm because it was no longer detectable by CT & my CA19-9 was ging down.This was @ the end of April.I also need to tell that during all this time since the end of Jan.1999 I was also taking alternative therapy-Cantron,shark liver oil,bromelain & pancreatic enzymes-which I'm sure are contributing factors to my continued survival.By June 1999,my tumor markers started rising again & my oncologist recommended Gemzar.I returned to work part-time July 1999 & began Gemzar mid-July.My tumor markers started going down again & my CT scans showed no mets to other organs.This continued until 1/5/00,when my tumor marker rose sharply,bu CT scans still show no mets.I continued on the Gemzar & CA19-9 went down slightly with last draw.I will begin new series of Gemzar + 5-FU on 2/25/00-3wks on-1wk off.As long as my CA19-9s continue to fall,I will keep this up.Gemzar has been pretty mild as far as side-effects go except for decreased blood counts.My appetite is not the greatest,but I attribute that to the disease & lingering effects of radiation.All in all,my oncologist is amazed that I am still alive! I believe it is d/t a combo of love & support from friends & family,my own will to live as well as allthe Rx. I've had.If anyone would like info. on the alternative therapy(cantron,shark liver oil,etc) you can e-mail me @ Good luck to everyone out there & God bless you!Ellen H.

Posted 02/20/2000 05:41 pm by Ellen H.
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