Why Am I Not Over The Moon?

The news about my pancreatic cancer is good in every possible way.

My Whipple surgery removed the cancerous mass. The cancer cells were contained within the mass. Tests like the CEA and CA 19.9 show no sign of cancer in my blood.

Unless you knew my recent history (or saw the large zipper on my tummy and port [aka the alien] bulging from under my chest) there would be no way to associate me with cancer. I am fully asymptomatic.

I said this was good news. That’s selling it short. This is the best possible news. It deserves capitals: BEST POSSIBLE NEWS.

And yet I’m not jumping up and down. I’m not over the Moon.

My chemo continues. Radiation and more chemo will follow. The insurance company feels there’s justification to continue this therapy as does my oncologist… and me.

In 2017 pancreatic cancer is still among the worst diagnoses possible.

According to the American Cancer Society, for all stages of pancreatic cancer combined, the one-year relative survival rate is 20%, and the five-year rate is 7%. These low survival rates are attributable to the fact that fewer than 20% of patients’ tumors are confined to the pancreas at the time of diagnosis; in most cases, the malignancy has already progressed to the point where surgical removal is impossible.

In those cases where resection can be performed, the average survival rate is 23 to 36 months. The overall five-year survival rate is about 10%, although this can rise as high as 20% to 35% if the tumor is removed completely and when cancer has not spread to lymph nodes. – Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research

My Whipple was the ‘resection’ they’re describing. Only one of my lymph nodes, adjacent to the mass, was cancerous. But you can see, even then it’s only 20-35% in five years.

My surgeons and oncologist all believe I will beat these odds. And yet how can the odds not enter into your thought process?

The Hirshberg Foundation also says:

While pancreatic cancer survival rates have been improving from decade to decade, the disease is still considered largely incurable.

My doctors don’t seem like the kind to promise more than they can deliver. In their business honesty is the only policy. My cancer was found early. Their treatment was thorough and leveraged technology only available the last few years.

I want to be excited and ecstatic and jump for joy. On the other hand there’s more chemo next Thursday.

For the rest of my life I will be monitored carefully. Blood work and cat scans will continue forever. If the cancer returns we’ll find it early, again. Hopefully.

Can I be cautiously optimistic?

Blogger’s Addendum: I tried to clarify some of this blog post on Facebook. Here’s my conclusion. The cancer has removed much of the naivete and innocence from my view of life and death. The genie’s out of the bottle.

20 thoughts on “Why Am I Not Over The Moon?”

  1. Your optimism is justified… TAKE THE WIN! Listen to the doctors and treat each ensuing day as a gift…

    You’ve been given a 2nd chance at a new life… ENJOY IT!

  2. Try to enjoy the great news. My dad had pancreatic cancer and was unable to have the whipple. He also said that this consumes your life. He hated it. You feel good so take the good news. I’m praying for you.

  3. Faith,and you have so many praying for you. Rejoice each day and look for every wonderful grace given. The doctors would never as you said lead you to believe what is not possible. Anything is possible with faith and if you believe.

  4. That is truly wonderful news. I understand the caution part, it’s in our nature. But you have so many things going for you not the least of which is your spirit. So enjoy!

  5. So very happy to read that you have good news, and you will be back to your new self. It’s been a long road, and perhaps a bit bumpy, but you persevered, you did what needed to be done. You will always have my prayers for healing, strength and love. You were my favorite weatherman! Continue to heal, and let your heart rejoice in this wonderful news.

  6. Wonderful news! I am being treated for uterine Cancer diagnosed around Thanksgiving at Smilow Cancer Center. I agreed with your assssment and trust of your Doctors. My Doctors are very optimistic and I believe them.

  7. Because of the down side to this disease and despite the outcome right now, I too would be cautiously optimistic about life span. However, the gift you’ve been given right now you are cherishing and remaining upbeat and positive, which is a good thing. In a way you are “jumping up and down” but not perhaps in the sense that we associate with that. My friend Steve who passed at the end of August – his was not diagnosed until almost Stage 4 – he did not stand a chance. Live long and prosper Geoff Fox!

  8. Geoff everyone is basically saying the same here and why not dwell on
    all that has and is going good for you this far and stay the positive road. No place for negativity now-YOU -have been given a wonderful gift -no reason to think
    you will not be in a medical journal write up some day!! You are such an
    example for others and have so so
    many that are continuing good thoughts and prayers for you.!!

  9. You are perfectly normal….it’s human nature to “wait for the other shoe to fall”, it’s
    good to be cautiously optimistic and keep a good watch over it. Wishing you the very
    best and hoping all continues to go well. You are a fighter and optimistic too, both
    SUPER important in this battle you are fighting. Good luck and God bless Geoff.

  10. I have stage 4 breast cancer. I understand why you are not jumping over the moon. You have a very good chance of living for awhile longer. Notice no hard statistics in that statement! The fact is that Cancer now is part of our everyday life. We can’t let it and all the treatment that comes with it be our boss! We should do something everyday that makes us happy. Best of luck to you.

  11. Geoff, don’t dwell on the negative. Prayers and positive thoughts from some many friends and family will get you through this. I mentioned to you before – my friend had this over 20 years ago – with a 7 plus hour whipple and she is fine today. I will put you in touch with her if you would like. PM me or call, she would be very happy to talk to you about her experience. Love and prayers to all of you continue.

  12. You have touched so many people in the New Haven area over the years. We are rooting for you Geoff! God Bless you every step of the way !

  13. Reading what Cindy wrote (she kind of beat me to it)…I was going to say the same thing:

    I know PLENTY of folks who were given the hard numbers in the beginning of their cancer diagnosis…and blew through them by DECADES! Those percentage numbers don’t take into account the age, current health (like a person in good shape for their age like you), level of excellence of the hospital itself, stage cancer was detected, …etc. These numbers are only broad stats that change as technology changes by the month.

    Don’t try to sell good news short…take each day as it comes and enjoy it. You ARE beating the odds. My dad beat throat cancer 12 years ago (he’s 88 today!). God bless.

  14. Geoff, I saw the commercial for your interview with Ann Nyberg last night that will air I think on 2/27/17 on WTNH. God Bless you and your family and think strong to stay strong!

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