Mary-Olson2015After a diagnosis of locally advanced pancreatic cancer on April 23, 2015, Mary Olson, 59, opted to be her own health advocate and take control of what she could. This began with securing a second and third opinion until she found a doctor who offered her real options -- instead of sending her home to get her affairs in order.

During an initial 12 weeks of aggressive chemotherapy and five weeks of radiation, Mary’s iron levels dropped. She would have to stop chemo unless her iron levels began to rise. With the direction and guidance of her medical team, Olson began to incorporate a high protein diet.

Despite undergoing a successful surgical procedure on October 22, 2015, Olson learned she had a rare secondary tumor in a lymph node near her collarbone and required more chemotherapy treatments, which left her feeling extremely sick. In order to continue treatment, Olson needed to gain weight, which can be challenging after pancreatic cancer surgery.

Mary and her husband having fun despite cancer

Mary and her husband having fun despite cancer

Her surgeon’s office originally referred Olson to our organization, which they coined the “Only reliable organization to get information on her disease.” Olson scheduled an online appointment with a Patient Central Associate at the organization who has since become, “One of the most important people” on her support team.

A Patient Central Associate sent Olson a booklet on diet and nutrition, specific to pancreatic cancer patients. You can request this booklet by calling 877-272-6226 or emailing patientcentral@pancan.org. Associates are available Mon – Fri, 7am to 5pm Pacific Time.

“I have followed the diet to the letter and I feel fantastic and am even back to running,” said Olson. “My doctors said there is a lot we cannot do with pancreatic cancer, but good nutrition, lots of exercise and a positive attitude can make an enormous difference.”

Read 5 things you need to know about nutrition after a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.