In early March 2022, I went to my Primary (Phys. Asst. - PA) about some weird back pain & bloating I was having. She sent me off for some labs and x-rays and also an Ultrasound. The Ultrasound showed some issues and so I pursued those, however those were not the source of my pain. I went back to the PA to insist on a CT scan to look for something else, like cancer. She kept asking me, "Why do you think you have cancer?" My answer: "Well, because I know my body. This pain is DIFFERENT. The pain is already changing; it's nothing like anything I've had before." Unfortunately, I was right. Just in time for my 60th birthday April 21st, the CT scan found several cancerous lymph nodes in my abdomen and possibly something else around my pancreas. (Oh boy, Happy Birthday to me -- NOT!) Since then I have been poked, prodded, biopsied, x-rayed, radiated and viewed about every which way to look for the cancer's site of origin, with procedures such as an MRI, PET scan, CT-guided biopsy and endoscopic ultrasound just to name a few. Waiting to schedule the tests and waiting for the results has been agony in and of itself -- like living in constant fear while the abdominal pain proceeds unheeded.
Finally by 5/17, they found the origin -- a 2.6cm "poorly differentiated adenocarinoma" mass in the pancreas, with the same cancer identity as the lymph nodes nearby. Pancreatic Cancer. Because it has spread from the pancreas to the lymph nodes, it is Stage 4. A double whammy. Not what anyone would ever want to hear. As shocking as that was to take in, at least it spurred me to really PUSH to start some kind of treatment. Finally the 'Squeaky Wheel Theory" worked: my Chemo Port was installed Monday 5/23, I had a nerve block procedure done 5/24 to (hopefully) minimize the increasing pain, and Chemo started 5/25. It was a full week and not easy. Each day has had challenges. But at least a treatment plan is in the works!
My chemo cocktail is Folfirinox, which is actually 4 different chemo's plus steroid and anti-nausea meds to counteract the side effects. It took 8 hours to dispense most of these and then the last drug was dispensed via a pump at home over the next two days. I had the pump removed Friday 5/27. This cycle will repeat every 2 weeks for the foreseeable future. After 4 treatments, I will repeat some scans to see if it is working. At some point in the future, we may travel to MD Anderson in Houston Texas for a 2nd opinion, to make sure I am on the right treatment path for me.
As you can see my new normal is not normal at all BUT I am going to fight this with ever fiber of my being. My new focus must be on following the Oncologist's plan to ensure I get the most out of it. This includes eating a healthy, balanced, high protein/high calorie diet and minimizing processed sugar, which as many of you know, will be a huge lifestyle change for me. My husband Gary and sister Sue are my Co-Pilots in this endeavor.
Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers and check back for occasional updates here or as a link via Facebook. Thanks to all my friends and family for the love, care and concern you have shown thus far and those positive thoughts. I so appreciate it!!