It all started in late 2011 with a minor discomfort just above my stomach. When I went for my annual physical in February 2012, I mentioned my minor discomfort and my doctor got right on it. After almost a year of trying to diagnose my “gastric” discomfort, a blood test was done to check my liver activity. It was high, so in January of 2013 I had a CT scan. It was then that the mass on the tail of my pancreas was discovered. It was like a ton of bricks landed on my shoulders. The doctor was quick to add that it was isolated and surgery could remove it.
My wife was an OR nurse with the VA at that time and worked with many doctors from a high volume pancreatic cancer hospital in northern California. She knew right away who should do the operation. I had the operation, which removed 40% of my pancreas, and then received standard chemotherapy, radiation, and chemotherapy again. I was cancer free by September of2013. During this time, I also participated in a pancreatic vaccine (immunotherapy) trial.
Unfortunately, by March 2014 the cancer had metastasized into my lungs (seven small tumors) and one on my liver. It was diagnosed as stage IV and I was given about a year.
I underwent the strongest chemotherapy regimen they had, which was a combination of three chemotherapy drugs. During the next six months, I also participated in a Chinese healing practice and mindful meditation, ate a healthier diet with approved supplements, and maintained a journal on Facebook about my situation, which has provided me with tremendous amount of moral support.
At the end of six months, I had another CT scan and this time it showed that two of my lung tumors had disappeared and the liver tumor had shrunk by 25%. I attribute this improvement not only to my chemotherapy and my alternative healing practices, but also to the pancreatic cancer vaccine. It didn’t appear to work initially, but I believe it is now working to attack my tumors.
My CT scans since then have shown no more reductions in tumors or size, but all remain stable with no growth. My oncologist says that my cancer is behaving abnormally in a positive way.
Finally, I strongly believe that the most important factor in winning this battle has been the support of my friends, relatives, and, most importantly, my wife and daughter. They have been with me every step of the way. We are all maintaining a positive attitude and are looking forward to many more years of enjoying life.