Pancreas Cancer Web


My husband, Richard, at age 39 was diagnosed with pancreatic cnacer on 9/13/99. I noticed he was jaundiced on 9/10/99. He had gone to the doctor on 9/7/99 for a dull pain in his abdomen. He was diagnosised with an ulcer after a quick 5 minute exam by an internist he had never seen before. On 9/10/99 we read the package insert that came with the medicine the internist had given him. It said to contact your doctor if you become jaundiced. (I am a registered nurse who works in an emergency room.) I looked in his eyes and they were faintly jaundiced. He went to work with me the next day and had blood work. His liver function studies showed that his bilirin was very high. The ER doctor on duty ordered an gallbladder ultrsound which showed a blockage. He had a CT that same day which also showed a blockage. The ER doc called the gastroenterologist who saw my husband that day in the ER. He told us he probably had gallstones and to come back in 2 days and he would do an ERCP to remove it. He found a tumor instead of a gallstone. The next day he had an ultrasound guided needle biopsy of the tumor which confirmed adenocarcinoma of the pancreas. He then had a dedicated pancreatic CT 6 days later further confirming all suspicions of pc. He had a whipple the next day. I'm sure we moved through the system so quickly because I worked in the hospital and all the doctors knew me personally. I did not know the surgeon. He was referred to me by my doctors by his reputation. He recognized me immediately, though, as someone who was in his Sunday School class and that I had cared for his children many times at church. We had many mutal friends. It's a small world. So don't be surprised if it takes you much longer to get diagnosed. My husband was one of the minority who was diagnosed within a month of the onset of sysmptoms. He had never lsot any weight prior to diagnosis. His Surgery went amazing well. It took about 6 hours and a 3.3 x 2.2 x 2.5 tumor was found in the head of his pancreas heading up his common bile duct causing obstructive jaundice. Two regional nodes were positive due to direct tumor extension. The tumor had penetrated the duodenum, but was not through the entire wall of the duodenum. All surgical margins were clean. There was no evidence of distant metastisis at the time of the surgery. His ca 19-9 was 195 at the time of surgery. The doctors told me this was as good as it gets with pc. The tumor was grade 2 and classified as locally advanced. After 8 days in the hospital he was discharged home. A quick hospital recovery I'm told. He recovered for about 8 weeks and then had 25 radiation treatments with continuous 5 FU M-F. Then 5 radiation treatments without 5 FU for a "boost". He was tired through his radiation, but survived. After this our oncologist sent us to Vanderbilt University to see an oncologist, who specializes in pancreatic cancer. He recommended we receive 5 FU once a week for 12 doses and then 6 months of gemzar. He started this regimen 12 days later. He gets 2 more 5 FU treatments and then moves on to the gemzar. Other than being tired he has tolerated all treatments well. Only experiencing slight nausea (anzimet helps this almost completely). He has never once vomitted since surgery. He hasn't had any mouth sores or other side effects from the chemo. We have been so blessed, if you can be blessed with this disease. We thank God he has had minimal problems status post surgery and chemo. His ca 19-9 has remained less than 15 since surgery. We pray it will remain this way. We have 3 children ages 6 yo, 10 yo, and 14 yo. My husband had no risk factors for this disease. He never smoked or drank and had moderate caffeine intake. He is a civil engineer who has an office environment type job. We don't know why the disease struck us. We only pray for God to help us accept this disease and to guide reasearchers to find a cure as quickly as possible for pc.

Posted 04/11/2000 06:51 pm by Mary D.
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