My wife and I were full time RVers, traveling around the country in our 40’ motorhome for 13 years. We took the occasional cruise to give ourselves a “vacation.”
But, after six months of increasing, extreme pain with various blood draws and no diagnosis, I made a trip to the emergency room in June 2016. Life as we knew it changed. This devasting, fatal diagnosis put the brakes on our lives literally and figuratively. With little hope our lives became dominated by lab work, chemo, doctors, etc.
Three days later the diagnosis was confirmed; inoperable tumor in the pancreas. The roller coaster began:
August 11, 2016 first chemo treatment with a 40% chance of positive response.
My pain reduced dramatically in one month; good news. However, chemo with its effects and disruption to daily life continued for a total of 11 months (September 20, 2017) and radiation March 23, 2017 for eight months.
After five CT scans – no metastasis and last two CTs showed measurable shrinkage of tumor. Hope despite the dismal outcomes reported, returns. Traveling again becomes a possibility.
Unfortunately, some pain and discomfort returned and upon waking up yellow one morning, I took another visit to ER. The result was for me to get an ERCP, where a plastic stent was placed into an obstructed bile duct (September 2018). The CT and biopsy showed scar tissue was the problem. This procedure will be repeated until the bile duct remains open on its own.
Thanks to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) for inviting me to the 2018 National Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day in Washington DC. What a thrill to be involved in this opportunity and to share with other survivors. This opened my eyes to the need for more funding and awareness. I hope to spread the message by my sharing.
My real thanks and gratitude is to the caregivers who feed us, nurture us, sacrifice and continue to stand by our side.
October 2018 marks my second PurpleStride, the walk to end pancreatic cancer. My team, Fist Bumpers, grew from eight members last year to over 30 this year. The walk provided a platform for me to reach out to family and friends, who then reached out to their family and friends. Sadly, or joyfully, I have two team members who each lost a sister to this deadly disease. PanCAN provides continued support to me that I can now share with others.
As I write this I am preparing my motorhome (a smaller one these days) to attend the October PurpleStride. It’s good to be out in the motorhome. Traveling, not to the extent that I had been but so grateful that I can travel, scheduled between doctor follow-up appointments! The sky looks brighter and the trees greener.
And after the walk, I return my motorhome to storage and pack to sail away on a cruise ship. Living my life to the fullest; spreading news of one survivor’s story.