Denise Ladao

First post: Apr 29, 2009 Latest post: Dec 9, 2014
Thank you for coming here to support Denise, Ryan, Tiare, and Cameron through this challenging period of their lives.  Dee was diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Cancer in October 2008.  The cancer has spread to her liver and spleen. We have set up this site to help keep our family and friends informed through treatment.




April 2009

A few years ago an excruciating chest/abdominal pain brought me to an urgent care. Nothing was found, so I was told to follow-up with my doctor and was sent home. I followed-up with my doctor who over a period of months prescribed me medications for anxiety, high blood pressure, acid reflux, et cetera, trying to find the cause for such symptoms. The pain continued on and off, more trips to the doctors, until finally an ultrasound found that I had gallstones. I had my gallbladder removed and was happy to think, “no more pain”. A week later, the pain returned and I was told it was just a side effect of the surgery. During that time, my blood tests were normal except for my liver enzymes that alternated between normal and abnormal every 3 months or so. Another trip to the urgent care, numerous tests, another ultrasound…all normal. The pain continued, and a year later, my doctor finally decided it was time to see a gastroenterologist. Another ultrasound was ordered, and this time, I was told that I had numerous masses in the liver and spleen believed to be cancer. I still don’t understand how a year prior, my ultrasound was normal, and a year later, the masses were “too numerous” to count. Two liver biopsies were done that confirmed it was cancer, but both could not detect the primary source. I started a three time a day injection in hopes that this medication would slow down or at best halt the growth of the tumors. Needless to say, it didn’t work. A trip to UCLA to do an endoscopic ultrasound just days before Christmas 2008 detected that the primary source of the cancer is the pancreas. In January and February 2009, I saw a surgeon and a transplant doctor from San Diego and San Francisco, and all agreed that surgery and transplant was not an option for me at this time. So presently I am doing chemo in hopes that it will shrink most of the tumors, and that eventually surgery will be an option to remove the remaining. The journey continues...


Some continue the fight, some have won the fight, and some have lost the battle.

In 2007 I lost my grandma and uncle to cancer just 2 weeks apart. A year passed, and through my workplace, I was given the opportunity to volunteer for Hospice. I gladly signed up, went through training, and was ready to pay it forward, but a continued pain slowed my eagerness to get started. About a week later, I was told, "it's cancer." My first thought was, how do I tell my mom? She just lost her mother and brother, now her daughter? Then it came to mind, did I go through Hospice training because I would need their services one day? I had met the most wonderful people, but one person stuck out and I just knew that I wanted her to counsel my family. At that moment, I was ready to give in when I didn't even begin the fight.

Since then, I have been through numerous counts of chemotherapy, hospitalizations, medications and its dreadful side-effects, all with family and friends by my side. I was unable to participate in the relay since I was too ill to have a hand in the team my sister started.

Fast forward to this year, 2010. I continue the fight, but am feeling better than I ever did. I was able to take part in the relay and was moved by the sea of survivors, and the feeling that I'm not alone. I was more touched by everyone who came together to take a stand. The Relay for Life was an uplifting experience and had given me a renewed sense of hope and not just the continued drive to fight, but the will to survive.

I relay because I have Stage IV Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Cancer and was given 5 to 10 years to live. I relay for a cure. I relay because I have family and friends that continue the fight. I relay because I want us to win the fight. I relay because we won't lose the battle. I relay because I know we cancervive!

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 Denise’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