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Updated Survivor Story: Clinical Trial Participant – Wayne R. Peterson

A year ago I wrote a “Survivor Story” for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and would now like to share an update of my current status. Obviously, I am still a survivor!!!!!!!  

Let’s start from the beginning.  In November of 2010, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which had metastasized to the liver.  There were three malignant tumors in the liver and one in the pancreas. 

I was diagnosed after I discovered a growth on my lower left leg that was determined to be a blood clot.  I was on blood-thinners for several years, so this should not have occurred.  After further tests and biopsies, it was determined that the clot was caused by tumors in the liver.  We then had to determine where the cancer started and we found that the culprit was the pancreas.  I was very healthy at the time, so we believe that my overall health worked in my favor. 

I was offered and encouraged to participate in a clinical research trial and agreed to do so.  Through the clinical trial, I started with chemotherapy for seven straight weeks in a row and a daily pill. 

The treatment was very successful; by the end of 2011 a CT scan showed no tumor on the pancreas and two of the three in the liver were gone completely and the third was significantly smaller.  However, in early 2012, the treatments started to take a serious toll on my body.  During, February, March and April I was in the hospital several times.  At the end of April, my primary care doctor recommended to my oncologist that I go off treatment.  My wife and I had planned to ask to do this anyway.  We were looking for quality of life as long as possible.  I went into a rehab hospital for eight days to regain strength. 

Although the medicine eventually took a toll on my body, I highly recommend anyone with this condition to become involved in a clinical research trial.  It may or may not help you, but will help someone down the road.

From May, 2012, when I went off the clinical trial, until April, 2013, my CA 19-9 count stayed in the 56.7 range.  (I still feel that the trial was critical in my survival.)  However, in April and months following, the count started to rise.  A CT scan showed that a new nodule was growing in the liver and was quite sizable.  

So, I started a new chemotherapy regimen, then another, and now a third, which appears to be working.  The CA 19-9 marker reached 33,000 at some point and has now decreased to 6,000.  The new treatment is a combination of two chemotherapy drugs.

I have taken a three-week hiatus from treatment to allow my body to regain strength and decrease the edema (fluid retention) in my legs.  My progress has been slowed by several stress fractures in my lumbar vertebrae in the spine, but thankfully they are now healing. Overall, I have had a good year.   

As we approach the third anniversary of my diagnosis, we continue to live our lives as normal as possible.  I am still active with volunteer work in my church and the Knights of Columbus, we have friends in for dinner, we go out to dinner, we have the children visit, and we cheer on our Tampa Bay Rays’ baseball team!!!

From the very beginning of this journey, we have said three ideals would help us on this mission: good medical care, positive thinking and the power of prayer.  We continue to follow that philosophy and will do so until this journey reaches its zenith. 

The support and love of my wife, my son and daughter and their families and all of our friends has been overwhelming.  We are now into the 34th month of this adventure and continue to be blessed and to remain very positive.

Saint Paul says that LOVE conquers all and prayer is love.

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