Pancreatic Cancer: A Survivor’s Story Following Treatment at Johns Hopkins


3 or 4% percent of the people that
are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer even live 5 years. Did I ever really think about dying,
no. Was at the back of my mind, sure. But I looked at my two kids and
my wife, and I said, that’s something I can’t,
it’s not acceptable. And I think the only way you can
go on, and that is to fight it. [MUSIC] When I first had the pains I
went to my local doctor and they ran some tests, and
his diagnosis was pancreatitis, go on this diet and you’ll be fine. I really wasn’t satisfied with
that answer, I still was somewhat symptomatic, and I just didn’t
believe that’s what it was. Just something didn’t
feel right about that. So we did look nationwide and
worldwide for the best place for pancreatitis or pancreatic disease,
particularly pancreatic cancer. And that turned out to be,
lucky for us, 45 minutes away.>>I initially met him back in
2010 when he came to me for a second opinion on pancreatitis,
things weren’t adding up. He didn’t have the typical risk
factors for pancreatitis, and as we looked through
his information, we became concerned that
he maybe had a cancer.>>When he looked at the films, he said yeah I think I
do see something there. I think there is something that is
tiny, we don’t know what it is. Says, it appears you may have
some kind of a blockage in there, we don’t know. We can go in there and
find nothing and then you got half a pancreas
rest of your life. I have a hunch that
something’s not right. And I said, what would you do,
what do you think? He said, I don’t think I’d
let this thing sit around. The decision was made to basically
do an exploratory whipple. I trusted him immensely and
rightly so, it saved my life.>>He then went off to have surgery,
he had a whipple operation and he did well with that. And unfortunately,
we identified a pancreas cancer.>>Came out of a nine,
ten hour surgery, the worst thing we could’ve
thought of had happened. Yes, I did have pancreatic cancer.>>Treatment of patients with
pancreatic cancer is somewhat challenging, because really there’s
two battles that we need to fight to cure pancreatic cancer. There’s a local battle,
which is fought with surgery and, as an adjunct, radiation. And then there’s a systemic battle. So once the tumor’s removed
the second battle still needs to be fought. And that is fought
with chemotherapy.>>We went on a nine
month chemo program, and you don’t really look like yourself. It was good to get back in my house. And once I was at home for a week or
two, I was able to come downstairs and sit by the fire, and have
somewhat of a normal life again.>>One of the advantages of being
part of the Hopkins Group is we work as a multi-disciplinary team. So every patient that comes in,
we do an individualized approach. We sit as a group, and we take a
look at each individual patient and come up with a unique plan
based on their tumor biology, and based on patient
characteristics. And I think that
the outcomes are better, in fact it’s been shown that the
outcomes are better when patients are treated through
a multi-disciplinary program.>>I do not like to sit around,
I can’t sit around, moving around, being active, having too
many things on my schedule, too many things on my
plate is the way I live. We tried to keep it as much
as normal as possible, and I think that was as good a thing for
me as it was for the kids. Part of that is what kept me,
was part of my winning my battle. Also it gives you that will to live,
and that want to get back to where
you were as soon as possible. I told myself that was my goal. I’m either gonna die from this or
I’m gonna get back on my horse and ride again. Hopkins can do a whole lot, and I think that’s by far the best place
that can treat it and cure it, or at least give you a little bit,
a lot more time. But most of all,
you have to work with them. You have to work with the doctors. If you defeat yourself, there’s not a lot they’re
gonna be able to do for you. You have to wanna live,
not just wanna live, but you have to wanna fight.>>I’m proud to be
taking care of patients right now with pancreatic cancer. In the past couple of years, there have been many innovations and
new therapies that I am certain are improving the survival
of our patients today. I think Cook is an example of this.>>As of last May, Dr.
Wolfgang says you’re cured. And yeah, it’s a great feeling,
you know.