Jun 28, 2017 Latest post:
Nov 10, 2017
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support, encouragement, and friendship. Thank you for visiting!
First, below is a short historical perspective of Judy's cancer challenge. Later below, we'll take you up to where things stand currently.
Judy was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on February 21, 2014. Of course, this was a shock out of nowhere (and no family history) but I guess that is not unusual for pancreatic cancer to be this way. After looking at different options, she went with IU-Goshen Hospital where Dr. Schwartz was an expert surgeon in this area and headed up their cancer program. Next was an extensive chemo regimen that was a grueling effort. Still not sure how she managed to work, too but she did. Following that was a long surgery, called the Applebee procedure in July of 14. This basically, removed two-thirds of the pancreas and left the middle area, along with removing some of the main arteries, spleen, gall bladder and few other changes to her system. She had some other challenges but did well, overall.
Despite some nagging health challenges (like a hernia could not have repaired until Nov. of16), the good news was the pancreatic cancer was at bay. Then the oncologist saw a small amount of cancer on the liver in early 15, it did not look like or act like pancreatic cancer (which would be a good thing). So, thus they did surgery in the liver area and took the cancer out (with part of the liver), unfortunately, it was pancreatic cancer that had moved in here.
In March of 16, Judy was not feeling well, and they found some blockage in her biliary duct (helps clean blood and is connected to the liver). She did have to get a temporary stent put in and then they had to go back later and put in a permanent one. They would continue to do blood tests and c-scans every quarter and up through the end of this March, and everything looked "clean".
Then Judy had some additional health challenges here this May. She had some serious blockage between here stomach and intestines. They had to do surgery to put in a mesh type stent here. After looking a biopsy, they determined it was pancreatic cancer that had spread to the outside of the stomach wall that had caused this. (So microscopic that is went undetected on the last scan). They also (once that healed some), had to go back in and do another procedure to clean out the biliary stent that had become clogged and she would now need her liver enzyme level and biliary count to come down within acceptable levels to look at the next possible treatments for her.
CURRENTLY, been doing much research and visiting and communicating with many hospitals, doctors, and other personnel plus insurance, of course, with Judy (God Bless her), taking the lead and doing a good job and keeping a good attitude through all of these challenges. Fortunately, she has also had her good friend Dr. Prudy Barrett-Nelson and Dr. of Pharmacy-Sean Bridges, helping guide her and decipher the different options, language and help ask the right questions. Plus, Pat would ask some questions, too (that anyone else would;-)! This was after the current oncologist at Goshen hospital told her he would recommend for her to find a Pancreatic trial study nothing else they could do (besides "standard of care"), so that was a cold ending to what was otherwise, good patient care she received the whole time at Goshen Hospital.
This journey has now taken us back to her outstanding past oncologist Dr. Stardub (who now heads up a new cancer center at Parkview Hospital in Ft. Wayne) and he has been most helpful. Head of Oncology, Dr. Reid at Beacon Health Care System has been a wonderful resource, again, too. Judy also stopped back down at IU Hospital in Indy but they did not have any trials that fit Judy currently. Next, went to U of Chicago ( multiple tests and visits), and thought Judy would be going into their clinical trial. This is one that is on the cutting edge of Immune system treatment- and we all were excited about that possibility (plus does not have nearly the side effects that chemo has). The good news here is that when they read the most recent c-scans they saw the cancerous tumor actually shrink some! While that is highly unusual, it does happen. So, that is good news but does not mean the cancer is gone or going away. The bad news was that there was not enough tissue they could get to for her to qualify for this study now.
This brings us to the University of Michigan Hospital. They have an advance (more developed and proven study), Phase 3 Clinical Trial for Pancreatic Cancer. Which Judy was just at again on the 27th, and Judy has qualified for this study! (We'll tell you more about this study and how Judy is doing on future journal posts, here). However, we drug our feet some on getting into this study as two-thirds of the patients get the new drug her while one-third get the "standard of care drugs" for this pancreatic cancer and it is a double-blinded study, so you don't know which you are.
This is a chemo regimen (plus other tests, blood samples for study are taken, as needed), that Judy will be in for 3 times the first week, 2 (or three) times the following two weeks, and then once a week after that. With basically one week off a month to rest her body. We will drive up to U of M in Ann Arbor for this and will do so until it doesn't work or if the chemo regimen is or becomes too tough to take. When reaching that point will decide what to do from there (with UM Hospital (and other friends as needed and mentioned earlier). We are fortunate to have such a great hospital and Doctors close enough to us to be able to take advantage of (and health insurance that covers most of the costs, currently).
We know the cancer is still there and it is not going to go away but if it can be held at bay as long as possible and Judy gets some additional quality of life, we are all fortunate and richer having her here with us! So, we thank you (and humbly ask), for your positive thoughts and prayers for Judy :-)!
She also wants to thank everyone for all the love and support she has received and feels blessed!
She is doing pretty good right now, (which is important to have some strength before going into the chemo sessions). This is not supposed to be quite as bad as her last regimen and we all need to pray with her for that, too!
She just needs to get her rest and listen to her body but would love to hear from you here or just keep you updated, (and you can share w/ other friends of Judy that we may not have reached).
Blessings to Judy and all her extended family, friends and caregivers!