My 1st year of fighting pancreatic cancer

17 Nov

Last week was my 63rd birthday. It was also exactly one year since I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. So I celebrated the anniversary as my “first re-birthday”.

 I have now surpassed my original prognosis and may have found the reason why. It’s certainly not simple. If my experience just helps one of you out there – then this blog will have served its purpose.

Looking back over the last twelve months, so many aspects have come into play. Here’s a quick list of some of the things I’ve had to cope with.

–          the confirmation of the cancer and its deadly prognosis;

–          the immediacy which I started both radiotherapy and chemotherapy;

–          a drastic change of diet;  

–          enzyme, vitamin and other food supplements;

–          my attitude – how being positive was buoyed by the loving support of immediate family, extended family and friends;

–          deferring fear and facing reality;

–          the “administrative” aspects of being seriously ill – starting from enforced early retirement, dealing with insurance companies, tax authorities, social services and other well-meaning bodies;

–          and perhaps the biggest challenge of all, how to manage the medical unknowns.

 Without any doubt, the learning curve is extremely steep. But having climbed it successfully so far – how happy I would be if I could share it with those who are floundering and need help. It’s been a real roller-coaster year.  

What I did know on that dreadful day of diagnosis was that my mother-in-law had died of pancreatic cancer 12 years ago; she’d lasted a couple of months. My father-in-law died of lung cancer over 25 years ago at the age of 61.

My own father died of colon cancer over 20 years ago yet my mother survived three separate primary cancers before the stroke that ended her life.

I inherited the BRCA 2 gene from my mother.  My doctor told me I had Stage IV cancer in the body of the pancreas – with a spread to the diaphragm.  On top of that they found a Stage I growth in the kidneys.  

 I knew I wasn’t going to give up without a fight. The doctor mentioned that word cancer. It was a word not a sentence. Not yet! My wife was determined that I wouldn’t die at the same age as her father.

Is determination enough? Maybe.     

Feel free to ask me whatever – otherwise I’ll start from the beginning – my symptoms, diagnosis and how I shared the news with my immediate family.

Actually,  I think I’ll start with my change in diet. That’s the most dramatic. But only after I’ve enjoyed my birthday present from my golf buddies. Yes, last week I celebrated my first 18-holes of golf for over a year.  

 I look forward to a dialogue with anyone who needs to chat.

5 Responses to “My 1st year of fighting pancreatic cancer”

  1. Felicity Schwartz November 18, 2011 at 2:11 am #

    What a guy you are! Thank you for sharing your experience so openly and generously- I’m learning so much from you.

  2. Sheila Taylor November 18, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    Having ‘survived’ two bouts of cancer I consider myself one of the lucky ones. After the operations and all clear I tended to think of them as a temporary blip but also strongly believe in the power of positive thinking.

    In my long distanced youth I had an ex-boyfriend who later was attached to the Royal Marsden and wrote books about positive thinking and visualisation which supposedly had the same effect of producing a reaction in the body similar to strong feelings of love and chocolate (!). Our thoughts and admiration are with you. Love Sheila

  3. Tracy Cohen November 19, 2011 at 1:57 am #

    Very difficult to find anything of consequence to say in response to your opening blog other than you are a remarkable man and I look forward to hearing more from you first hand. Your openness and generosity of spirit is a gift to all your old friends and I’m sure the new friends you will make along the way.

    Best love

  4. Rev Michael Plaskow November 28, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in December 1996 in London. After a major operation to resite the bowel, I was left with a colostomy. This has proved to be no problem whatsoever. The thought of having a colostomy bag attached to ones stomach has proved so easy to deal with. I did not have any radiation or chemotherapy. Just 3 years ago, I had a recurrence in the very same area. After 6 lots of chemo and 25 lots of radiation, I am cured once more Thank God. In my humble opinion, the chief doctor over all other doctors is our Creator. I prayed every day to Him and I thank Him for answering my prayers. I lead an absolutely normal life. I am careful with my diet and I enjoy life.

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