(Since this entry was published many dates have changed and new roadblocks and procedures added. This entry provides a contemporaneous view of my situation.)
I’ve been pretty quiet recently and thought you should know why. A few months of indigestion brought me to my doctor’s office. Standard tests were performed which revealed masses in my kidney and pancreas.
Originally a biopsy showed both masses benign. My oncologist wasn’t satisfied. Something didn’t look right in my pancreas.
This time an ultrasound probe with camera was inserted down my throat to peer at my digestive system. The probe contained a small tube allowing doctors to insert a tiny needle and grab some tissue from the mass.
The results weren’t good.
At the moment the cancer in my pancreas is contained within the mass. It doesn’t look like it’s spread. These are good signs, but pancreatic cancer is relentless and long term survival isn’t common.
I’m undergoing surgery September 8th. It’s a very complex operation called a Whipple procedure. Portions of my stomach, intestines, bile duct, gallbladder and pancreas will be cut away, then the pieces reattached.
All of this is done in one of the body’s most complex areas. Organs overlap. Blood vessels and ducts vary in location from patient-to-patient. I’ve seen it called ‘taxing’ on the surgical team.
I’ll spend another seven or eight days in the hospital plus a week taking it easy at home. I’m already down 30 pounds and will probably lose another 15 or so.
It’s possible my surgery will deliver a cure. That, of course, is our hope. Many of my factors line up with a best case scenario. More likely the Whipple will just be life extension, hopefully adding years to my life. I’m good with that too.
The weird part is I feel great. I’m otherwise healthy. And who wouldn’t look better down 30 pounds!
Helaine, is at my side. Our daughter, Stefanie, too. My sister and brother-in-law are coming in from Milwaukee. I’ve got my support system.
My surgeon seems directly out of central casting. He is steady, confident and experienced. This kind of surgery begs for experienced hands.
After surgery I’ll probably need chemo and/or radiation. That will slow me down, but shouldn’t stop me. We can all laugh when I go bald.
The past winter, my 90 year old dad had five surgeries over two months. He even had a new valve inserted in his heart. At ninety that’s a lot of work, but they fixed him! He is my inspiration.
His goal in life is to attend his great grandson Judah’s bar mitzvah in around seven years. I told him I’d buy him a drink.
The road ahead is scary. But it is what it is and I’m not ready to give up.