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Survivor Story: Virgil Jurek

11/10/2013

On February 28, 2004, my wife, Gayl, and I played golf in Destin, Florida and on our trip back to the condo I told my wife, who is a registered nurse, about some symptoms I had experienced earlier in the week.  She said that when we got back she was going to check my eyes.  When she checked my eyes she found they were turning yellow, a symptom of jaundice.  My wife said, “We are going to the hospital right now,” and so we did.

After a week in the hospital with pancreatitis I was allowed to return to Minnesota if I had an RN to accompany me.  Fortunately, our daughter, Kathy, is an RN and she flew down to get me.  I had to go to the airport directly from the hospital.  We met in the Pensacola airport and two hours later we were on our way.  In the meantime, our two sons flew down to bring my wife, our belongings, and the car back to Minnesota.  I had to get an endoscopic ultrasound and while the gastroenterologist was talking to us, the pathologist stuck his head in and said "it's cancer."

Well, on March 25, 2004, I had surgery.  WOW!  My entire pancreas, spleen, common bile duct, one fourth of my stomach, and part of the small intestine were removed.  WOW again!  After 18 days in the hospital and 12 days in a rehab center, I was permitted to go home with a feeding tube and a drain tube that would stay in place for six months.  I had 28 days of radiation treatment and 10 sessions of chemotherapy.  I lost 52 pounds; eventually I gained 26 pounds back, which put me at a desirable weight that I have been able to maintain.

I am extremely fortunate to have a wife and daughter who are both RNs.  They both can testify to how hard it is to be a caregiver, especially my wife.  I am in good health and have been told many times that I look like a miracle man.  I am able to do almost everything I did before the surgery and recovery.  I do have one problem though; when my pancreas was removed I became a Type 1 diabetic.  I was diagnosed as having adenocarcinoma which is a fast acting cancer.  I believed in the Power of Prayer before, but now I am a firm believer as I had many people praying for me!  It has been over 9 years and 7 months since surgery.



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