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4/3/2017 Latest post:
Hello everyone and thank you for coming here to check up on what is going on with me. Many of you have questions about how I got to this point and I want to share with you my story so you know how it all started. Early last November (2016) I had a severe pain in my abdomen went to the ER and was diagnosed with pancreatitis. The doctors worked hard to figure out what exactly caused the pancreatitis. They told me the top two causes were either gallstones or an excess of alcohol consumption. Having ruled out any gallstones via various tests that left me with avoiding alcohol altogether although I was pretty certain that my intake in that department was pretty average and not excessive. After feeling pretty well for a couple of weeks I had a return of symptoms but they were not severe. I went back to the Gastro doctor that I saw in the hospital as I was now his patient. His name is Dr. Thomas Lee and I must credit him with helping me find this cancer. He ordered more tests including an MRI that showed a dilated pancreatic duct. Dr. Lee told me to get the best look at my pancreas I would need an endoscopic ultrasound. This test was performed by an associate of Dr. Lee's, Dr. John Sun. The first attempt to do this procedure was on February 8th and ended up in a big disappointment for me. When he tried to move the camera/scope down my esophagus he encountered two strictures that would not allow him to go down any further. He dilated my esophagus and we rescheduled the test. The second attempt of the endoscopic ultrasound happened on March 8th. This test was successful and revealed two small tumors on my pancreas. Dr. Sun was able to biopsy these tumors. On March 23rd I went to see Dr. Lee and find out my results. My mom and I sat down with Dr. Lee in his office as he went through my history thus far beginning with the pancreatitis. He then told us that the tumors were cancerous. He was surprised because of my age and that he had never found pancreatic cancer at such an early stage. This gave him much hope that with proper treatment and measures (surgery) his word for me was CURE. We were shocked and saddened but also hopeful. This was 8 days ago. With that he referred us to Dr. Ajay Jain at the Upstate University Hospital Cancer Center. Dr. Lee ordered a PET scan and arranged for me to see Dr. Jain the following Monday. That would be Monday March 27th. Things were moving fast. How fast I had no idea. Again with my mom we went to meet Dr. Jain and his team. He greeted us and told us he wanted a few more scans and some blood work done and arranged for me to have them done that same day. We were told that the team would meet next Monday and review my case. I guess they decided to move faster than that. On Wednesday March 29 I got a call from Dr. Jain's office saying that they had already reviewed my case and wanted to know if I would be available for the surgery this coming Monday April 3rd. Without hesitation I said yes. They said because the tumors were small enough and I was young and healthy that I was a candidate for what is known as the Whipple procedure, or a Pancreaticoduodenectomy. If you are super curious look it up but I can tell you basically he is going to cut out the head of my pancreas (with the tumors), part of my duodenum (upper small intestine) and part of my stomach and then somehow connect it all back together. My test results so far have indicated that there is no metastasis or spreading of the cancer to other organs or to my lymph nodes. This is fantastic news and is also why they are moving so quickly. They are ready to get this cancer out of me and get me back to where I was before this all happened. Dr. Jain does plan on having me undergo chemotherapy in about 6-8 weeks post-op once I've recovered. This is where my part of writing the story ends. From this point on when you check into this site you will get updates from my Mom, Nancy. Perhaps in a couple of weeks I will be able to write something else but for now all I have to do is get through this surgery and get better. We decided to use this forum as it is easier for my mom to keep everyone updated. I'm still trying to process how I went from diagnosis to surgery in 10 days but all I can say is that God is good.
I would like to say that I am not scared or nervous but the to be honest I am both. I am also very sure that whatever happens is not in my hands but in God's hands and that of the skilled people he put in charge of my care.
So Monday April 3rd is the big day. I am scheduled for surgery at 8am and the surgery will take anywhere from 6 to 8 hours.
My mom will hopefully be able to post daily with updates on my progress. I can't tell you how blessed I feel to be in the best possible position for this all to happen with a wonderful team of doctors and a supportive network of friends and family. Your thoughts and prayers mean to the world to me and I'll look forward to when I can put this all behind me and carry the badge of honor known to all of us as SURVIVOR.
Mom here... I just want to add that the MIRACLE of this story is that the first endoscopic ultra sound that occurred on February 8th was due to someone else's cancellation. Teresa was originally scheduled for that test on March 24, the day after she got her diagnosis. She is 2 months ahead of the game. I wish that person well and I'm so grateful that for whatever reason they cancelled, it worked out in favor of Teresa.