Updated Survivor Story: Ashley Banter
I was 24 when I heard “you have inoperable stage IV, metastatic pancreatic cancer, and it has spread to your liver.” The day was November 27, 2012, and although I had been bracing myself for a week before my actual diagnosis, I was still in shock. I was not supposed to be diagnosed with cancer. EVER. And yet, there I was, already thinking about my funeral. I had already decided I did not want treatment. I did not want to spend my last months sick. But, God put my surgeon in my life for a reason. He was devastated at my wanting-to-give-up attitude and insisted I tried chemotherapy (that was my only option). So, I said I would try.
Every person in the medical field I ran into said, “You're just too young!” And I thought, “Tell me something I don't know.” But, scan after scan, treatment after treatment, my tumors were shrinking. My pain was going away. After 6 difficult months of therapy, in June of 2013, my scan showed the seven spots in my liver were down to three and all where under 1 cm in size, some smaller. The tumor in my pancreas, which was around 4 cm to start was down to 1.3 cm. My body was even having a delayed reaction to the chemotherapy, and they still shrank. Everyone, including me, was astonished. Surgery was now a possibility. I never imagined surgery for me.
On August 23, 2013, I had surgery to have 60% of my pancreas (not the Whipple procedure), my spleen, and spots on my liver removed and then my liver was treated with radiation. It was a very rough surgery. I had 50 staples, and I now have a 14” scar on my abdomen. But I do not want it to ever go away. I look at it every day with pride and hope.
On August 25, 2013, my surgeon, and friend by this time, told me I was cancer free. I could not help but hug him! This man, by the work of God, saved my life. I had a scan this past October, and everything looks great. I had a death sentence, but I refused to die. I will share my story to all to show hope. I was given so much hope during my darkest time, and I want to spread it as much as I can. This cancer is not discriminant. It does not care about gender, race, or even, as in my case, age. But hope will always be there. God does work miracles and I truly believe I was saved for a reason.
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