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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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