I am a pancreatic cancer survivor and I am celebrating being three-and-a-half years cancer free! My journey began on April 24, 2006. I had been having intermittent, annoying pain on my left side that I thought resulted from exercising, maybe a pulled muscle, and some fried chicken which I don't normally eat. The combination of the two caused quite a bit of pain one evening. I called my doctor and he suggested I go to the emergency room. After extensive testing, I was told that I had a "suspicious lesion" on my pancreas and I should see a surgeon after release from the hospital.
Being very naive about what a "suspicious lesion on the pancreas" really meant, I went home and spent the day on the internet. Feeling overwhelmed by my findings, but determined not to let it "get me", I immediately interviewed several surgeons. I had the Whipple surgery on May 6, 2006 and was released six days later from the hospital on May 12th, just in time for Mother's Day. The 2.5 cm tumor was removed, there were no metastases, and my lymph nodes were all clear. I had stage I pancreatic cancer.
After approximately four months of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, I returned to work. I had a very stressful job as a director of human resources, and my husband and I felt it best for my complete and continued recovery that I resign in April 2007. Shortly after returning home from a lovely vacation to the Dominican Republic, on February 28, 2007, I was taken to the emergency room. I had emergency surgery the next morning to remove part of the small intestine that had become ischemic due to scar tissue and/or radiation from the first surgery. That was my last day on the job where I'd worked for 27 years. I found out that I had short bowel syndrome and went home to heal and adjust to my need for TPN, nutritional supplementation. I am happy to say that I have not been on TPN since June of 2007. I have ongoing medical issues from the combination of my Whipple surgery and bowel resection, but the good news is that I can live with the issues.
There is so much good news that I could share with you that has occurred on this journey that I truly don't stop, very often, to think about the not so good news. Sitting here telling my story is such a blessing and a gift. I've also had the blessing of welcoming three beautiful grandchildren since my diagnosis.
In addition to my faith, I give special thanks to my incredible husband, whom I married in September, 2004, my ever praying mother and step-father, my faithful children, my church family, my incredible co-workers, and a host of other friends and family. I had people all over the world praying for me and for that I give THANKS!
There are so many incredible stories within my story about my pancreatic cancer journey that I'd need to write a book to fully capture all of the blessings of the past three-and-a-half of my life. Please, if you're on this journey, stay positive and stay faithful! Be thankful for each morning that you wake up, laugh a lot, love even more and always remain positive while on this journey called life.