I was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer July of 2017. The tumor markers were 6670. A 2 inch tumor was found in the head of my pancreas, and nearly two dozen tumors we’re found in my liver. There is a suspicious spot in my lung, but we don’t know if it is cancer, fungal, or bacterial.
I started a chemo regimen of Folfirinox every two week in August of 2017. It was super rough at first. I vomited several times a day, stopped eating, and lost a tremendous amount of weight. I was also on 60mg of morphine and several Norco breakthrough pills to combat the pain from the cancer.
At one point I was taking 36 pills a day to combat the side effects of chemo and painkillers. However, slowly but surely I weaned off the pain meds and the symptoms subsided.
In October my scans showed a small decrease in tumor size, and my markers dropped down to the 3000’s. I traveled to Boston to see my daughter, and we visited Salem, Mass dressed as witches. Before that trip I slept a lot, had little energy, and felt hopeless. However, when we decided to go I started preparing for the trip. I spent a little time every day walking on a treadmill. I started at the lowest setting for about a minute and worked my way up to 45 minutes at a 2 setting.
Salem was amazing. I walked the whole time, toured museums, and spent quality time with my family.
In December my scans showed a significant reduction in tumor size and my markers were in the 1300’s. I was no longer taking any pain pills, and I started working part-time again.
My last two sets of scans have shown , as the doc put it, the tumors in my liver have resolved themselves, the tumor in my pancreas is a fuzzy haze, and the spot in my lung cavitated. My tumor markers were and have remained in the mid-100’s. At that point I was told I was technically entering remission.
Since the tumors in my liver have resolved, I am now eligible for radiation. I begin radiosurgery next week. We suspect there are cancer cells living in the pancreas, and we hope by attaching the original source we can reduce the cancer cells and extend my life a little longer.
I understand that this is not a cure. I also understand that I will most likely be on chemo the rest of my life, but I sure appreciate the extra time I’ve been gifted.
I do not live near the Mayo, but all of my oncologists have been Mayo trained. However, I have been fortunate enough to to visit the Mayo and meet the fantastic oncology team that collaborates with the local docs on my case.
It is my hope that the radiation will work wonders and the chemo will continue to keep me in the maintenance phase.
Stay strong cancer warriors!