October 2008, to paraphrase Charles Dickens, was the best of times and the worst of times. Earlier in the month, my first grandson was born. Two weeks later, I was in the operating room for a Whipple procedure. After a battery of tests, I was scheduled for surgery, with my surgeon convinced that I had pancreatitis. Only after the pathology results were in, did I learn that I had stage IV pancreatic cancer. I began chemotherapy about five weeks after leaving the hospital; I received 6 months of standard chemotherapy. CAT and PET scans in June 2009 did not reveal any cancer, so exploratory laparoscopic surgery was scheduled for July 2009. Again, this surgery did not show any cancer. However, a CAT scan in October 2009 indicated a spot on my liver, so I started a regimen of chemotherapy followed by targeted therapy (I could only tolerate the targeted therapy drug for about two weeks at a time).
By Thanksgiving, the spot on my liver disappeared and that was the final treatment to this point. Both my surgeon and oncologist refer to me as "unique"! I have participated in the first two Purple Strides in Madison, Wisconsin, with my team raising over $8,000 for pancreatic cancer research.