Cathy Denker

First post: Jan 6, 2021 Latest post: Jan 25, 2022
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.

On January 5th, 2021, we got some very unexpected news.  After an endoscopy procedure was completed, we were told that a tumor was found in the head of my pancreas.  It appeared to be cancerous, and the pathology would come back the next day to confirm this diagnosis. Needless to say this was not what we expected to hear.

Over the last couple years I had been gaining weight very gradually, about 5 pounds per year. This may not seem that important, but for those of you who know about the structured food plan I have been following for the last 17 years, it was definitely odd. I had maintained the exact same weight consistently for 15 years prior to this change.  This was especially odd because I had been working with my nutritionist during these two years to make adjustments to my plan to curve the upward movement, but nothing seemed to help.  I also noticed by the fall of 2020 that most of this weight gain was showing up in my belly which was now quite distended.

In September 2020 I had some lab work completed and an ultrasound of my abdomen to see if there was anything obvious causing the bloating and weight gain.  Nothing was found on the ultrasound, and the bloodwork came back mostly normal, other than a slightly elevated thyroid level.  This turned out to be an insignificant cause of my problems.  The next step was to reach out my GI doctor who performed a previous colonoscopy. All was normal for the most part at that time except that I found out I have a redundant colon, which means it is extra long and twisty.  This does account for some chronic issues with constipation over the years which I have been able to manage.

In October my GI doctor ordered a bunch of tests.  One of these was an x-ray of my abdomen which showed I was backed up with stool.  This was likely the cause of the significant bloating.  So, she ordered a double cleanse.  This was helpful on some level as I ended up losing 8 pound in one week and it all came off my belly.  However, after this cleanse my belly pain/discomfort seemed to get worse and it felt different.  I was no longer able to eat the way I could before, especially the vegetables and sadly bye bye to coffee. My food plan had to be modified and I had to start eating smaller meals more frequently.  I was actually dealing with more discomfort than prior to the cleanse, so my GI doctor proceeded to order an emptying study, but this test did not show any significant issues.  The next step was to have a CT scan which took place on December 18th.  A few days later, I got a call that they noticed my bile ducts were dilated (enlarged).  They wanted to schedule and endoscopy to evaluate the problem further.  When I did read up on this I noticed the possible causes where stones or tumors, but that tumors were much less likely the problem, so I really didn’t give it much thought.  They did mention they would be taking a biopsy of the tissue, but again, I really didn’t think too much about it.  So we scheduled the endoscopy for January 5th, and proceeded to enjoy a nice Christmas gathering up north.

On Christmas day, it became a little more obvious something was seriously impacting my liver as one by one my family members noticed my eyes were yellowing and even my skin appeared yellow.  I was clearly jaundiced, so I proceeded to go into a local clinic for some blood work.  As expected, my liver function was compromised.  However, I was told as long as I did not spike a fever over the next week I would be able to wait until January 5th for the endoscopy.  So, we waited.  I was looking forward to getting some answers.

On the day of the endoscopy, I can honestly say, I felt peaceful about the entire process.  The doctors and staff at Abbott Northwestern were amazing.  Even after the procedure was done, and the doctor came in to tell us what they found, I felt at peace.  I have no doubt that this peace could only come from God.  It was and is a supernatural peace that transcends all understanding. At no time in the last two weeks have I truly broken down in fear or anxiety.  This can only be a result of the prayers that have been poured out over us over the last two weeks.  Although this news is hard, and the treatments and surgery will be even harder, I know God will get us through it one day at a time, one appointment at a time, one moment at a time.  The hardest part of this whole situation so far was for sure the pancreatitis attack that was a result of the endoscopy, but God brought me through it as well with the help of the amazing doctors and nurses at North Memorial Hospital.  I am so grateful for the amazing care I received!

I am also extremely grateful for everyone’s love and support!  I am immensely grateful for my amazing husband, Brian, who has truly stepped up to take care of me physically and emotionally.  Although we do not have all the answers yet of what the exact treatment plan will look like, I choose to place my trust and hope in Jesus.  I urge you all to do the same!  If you do not have a relationship with Jesus, this is as good of time as any to place your faith and trust in Him.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your prayers, messages, notes, cards, flowers, calls and outpouring of love.  It means the world to me, and to us as a family.

CaringBridge is a nonprofit social network dedicated to helping family and friends communicate with and support loved ones during a health journey. Learn more about CaringBridge.

To interact with Cathy’s website, sign in or register today.

By registering with CaringBridge, you will join over 300,000 people a day who are supporting friends and family members.

Sign In Or Register