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6/27/2016 Latest post:
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Ron and I were in Gulf Shores AL a month ago (May 2016) and neither of us had any idea what lie ahead. Shortly after we returned home, he started having abdominal pain without any relief. It didn't matter what he ate or what time of day it was. He began to lose weight, as he felt full and bloated quickly. He went to his internal medicine physician who suspected diverticulitis and was prescribed an antibiotic with a soft diet. The antibiotics made him nauseated but he continued to take them with no relief. He tried a liquid diet of protein shakes, a soft, bland diet, nothing helped. He went back to his doctor who ordered an abdominal CT scan. We frequently discussed what might be causing this unending pain; I never felt like it was truly diverticulitis as he hadn't had any GI tests to confirm and the symptoms didn't seem to correlate. He said he didn't feel like he was at a high risk for cancer, as it didn't run in his family. I told him that my mom (as well as my dad) had cancer too and always wondered why, because it didn't run in her family. As we know, not all cancers are genetic. I distinctly remember saying, "If it is cancer, we can deal with that....anything except pancreatic cancer". With my fifteen years as a medical instructor, I knew how horrible those statistics were.
On Friday June 3, a CT scan with contrast was performed. His doctor would typically call him with test results the same day whether it be blood work or a procedure performed. This time, he didn't hear from his doctor until Monday morning, June 6. The office called stating, "We need you to come in at 10:45 to discuss test results with the doctor." Neither of us liked the sound of that... That morning we went to the office and learned that the CT scan showed "A large mass in the head of the pancreas measuring slightly greater than 5 cm." Additionally, "There are now multiple areas of diminished attenuation throughout the liver most suggestive of metastatic disease."
Shocked by this diagnosis, we asked about the next step. His doctor ordered a PET scan. The results of it confirmed the earlier diagnosis and Ron was referred to an oncologist. We went to see Dr. Bhatia at MD Cancer Center at Community North in Indy. After a thorough evaluation of his records and numerous vials of blood, a biopsy of the pancreas and liver was ordered, in addition to an endoscopy and colonoscopy. Those procedures were done at Community North on Friday, June 17. We met with Dr. Bhatia again on Thursday June 23 to confirm the results and see if a treatment plan could be initiated at this point.
Dr. Bhatia confirmed the earlier diagnosis but added "Stage 4" Pancreatic Cancer, which had spread to his liver. Treatment options were discussed with only two viable modalities offered: two types of chemotherapy. A more aggressive approach which would likely make him feel terrible and a "gentler" type, which he decided to try. This particular regimen is three weeks on and one week off, beginning on Monday, June 27, which is exactly one month after we returned home from our latest vacation.
It's unbelievable how aggressive this type of cancer truly is. It has riddled his pancreas with enormous speed. One month ago he had no symptoms and now this...
Our History: Ron and I were both widowed from our late spouses and met a little over two years ago. He had been married 46 years and 27 years for me. We had so much in common it was comical. Both of us lived in Noblesville only a couple of miles apart, both loved to be color coordinated, loved to travel, loved dogs. Both of us had two adult children and two grandchildren each. Our granddaughters were even the same age. The craziest thing of all...and he told this to so many people.... our social security numbers are exactly the same except for ONE digit and that digit is in the same place!
In the two years we have known each other, we have inspired and supported each other, explored new places. He has shown me the ins and outs of Las Vegas, the richness of art collecting and the importance of sports in our daily lives (haha). I have shown him the best spots in South Florida, Key West, and hopefully a few other areas. In two years, we have traveled to these places several times as well as Arizona, Nashville, the Bahamas....Together we have enjoyed living on the lake, going to hockey games (a first for both of us), concerts, tried all kinds of new restaurants... and dealt with him having several surgeries and hospitalizations. He's had a few health scares but now we have our greatest challenge of all.
Please pray for a promising prognosis with successful treatment and extension. Ron is a generous, kind hearted, spirited, optomistic wonderful man who has already been through so many health challenges over the past several years. He has truly been a blessing to all those in his life and has left a huge imprint in my life.
More updates as treatment begins next week! Love to all....