In November of 1997, I received my cancer diagnosis; I was 45. My daughters were 3 and 4 years old. The doctor was fairly certain that I only had a few weeks to live. I wasn’t afraid, just confused as to what to do now for my wife and children. I was a recovery agent at the time. In my line of work death was always a possibility. I was 40 when my first child was born; I always wanted to be a father. I loved my girls so much that not being able to watch them grow up was my biggest fear.
I quickly asked friends of mine in the oncology field what my options were. The Whipple procedure seemed like the best bet if I was a candidate. It was recommended that I see a surgeon in Miami who performed a high volume of pancreatic surgeries. He saw me on Christmas Eve, 1997, just before he was going on a Christmas trip. He explained the procedure he was going to do in the week after Christmas. That was scary; I asked if I should get a second opinion to which he said he was the second opinion. I was good to go.
In January 15, 1998, he performed a 13-hour surgery that ultimately saved my life. What a wonderful man. Then, four years ago, in 2009, a man made a bad mistake while driving and he hit me head on causing damage to the abdomen. My surgeon was still at the hospital in Miami and agreed to do a second surgery. This surgery was more involved and required five months in the hospital. I am here to this day and I greatly appreciate the professionals who saved my life from pancreatic cancer!!
My oldest girl is in her second year of college and my youngest is graduating high school this year. My mission to see them through school is done. Fifteen years is more time than anyone would guess that I might survive. I live every day to my fullest. I became a good artist, had two hole-in-ones in golf, and three 300 games in bowling; all this after I was told that I might only live a few weeks. One never knows what life holds for us. At 45, I was okay if the unthinkable would have happened. At 60, I thank my God for watching over me. God bless us all!!