Pancreatic cancer - Stage IV
This testimonial includes a description of this patient’s actual medical results. Those results may not be typical or expected for the particular disease type described in this testimonial. You should not expect to experience these results.
View CTCA treatment results for pancreatic cancer
In October 2011, there were a number of changes on the horizon for my husband Max and I. I'd gotten a big promotion at work and our daughter was getting married. We were enjoying teaching Sunday school and were planning on taking some awesome vacations. Life was very good.
Overall, I’d been a healthy person. I saw my doctor once a year for my annual physical and rarely had a cold. But as I was helping my daughter plan her wedding, I was experiencing some health issues. I had pain between my shoulder blades and the pain seemed to progress to a burning in my abdomen. I thought it might be acid reflux. I couldn't keep anything down. I went on a total liquid diet for weeks and dropped a significant amount of weight. Doctors at my local hospital determined something was wrong with my gallbladder, so they removed it. But following the surgery, I had complications that led to jaundice. Another doctor performed surgery to insert a stent to relieve the jaundice. But when he went to put in the stent, he discovered a mass in my pancreas. The doctor biopsied the mass and when I came out of the fog of the anesthesia, I received the news I had pancreatic cancer.
Because of my deep faith, I wasn't terribly afraid. I don't look at it as brave. It's just that cancer can hit anybody. Cancer doesn't discriminate. My only real fear was for my husband. I was afraid he would fall away from his faith, and I didn't want that to happen. That spurred me to do whatever I need do to overcome the cancer.
I received chemotherapy for months at a hospital near our home in Montgomery, Alabama, but I felt I wasn’t getting the treatment I deserved. That’s when friends from church recommended we look into the new Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) hospital in Newnan, Georgia, near Atlanta.
I called CTCA and spoke with a representative who talked to me about their hospitals and what they offer. CTCA had a lot more options than my hometown hospital. That was the beginning step to getting our feet in the door of CTCA, and it was a turning point in my cancer journey.
A comprehensive approach and compassionate care
Max and I traveled to the CTCA hospital in Georgia for a consultation. The minute we walked into the hospital, we felt a sense of peace and calm.
I met with a medical oncologist, nurse, care manager, dietitian, naturopathic clinician and mind-body therapist in one room, in a series of back-to-back appointments. When I met Dr. Pabbathi, my medical oncologist, the first thing I noticed was her smile. It immediately put me at ease. After we talked about my situation, she asked me what my goal was. I told her it was to defeat the cancer. We discussed the side effects, which was a big concern. Dr. Pabbathi addressed every concern I had head on. I felt like she really cared and wanted to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish as reasonably as we could.
Dr. Pabbathi put me on an aggressive chemotherapy treatment plan. My dietitian also taught me what I should eat to keep my strength up, and my naturopathic clinician helped relieve some of my side effects. He gave me vitamins and natural therapies to boost my immune system too.
Something else Max and I have appreciated is that spiritual support is a regular part of my care at CTCA. Pastor Chip Gordon is part of my team. It just so happens he is from our hometown, but he is an Auburn fan. I’ve forgiven him for that though. He’s not only there to pray with Max and me if we need it, but talk to us and provide counsel. He makes it a point to come and see us whenever we’re at the hospital and check in. It's just phenomenal.
CTCA has been there for Max too. He can even talk with the staff pastors or mind-body therapists to get his feelings out. Everybody at the hospital is so helpful. And any time we're there, they're asking, "Do you need anything?" It’s like we’ve got friends and family there. We’ve also found that other patients and caregivers seem open to talk and share their experiences, and help each other out.
Since we've been to CTCA, the battle has been easier because of the services they have provided. And my team truly cares. They have compassion, and it shows. They take time with me to explain what I’m dealing with and answer my questions. I also feel like my entire care team not only embraces me, but my faith as well. That means the world to me.
The spiritual support I’ve received from my church at home in addition to my team at CTCA gives me encouragement to continue the fight. That gives me that extra little bit of something it takes when I don't feel like getting up, and it’s helped me concentrate on healing.
Blessings in disguise
A few months after I was diagnosed with cancer and started my treatment, we found out we were going to have a grandbaby. If I did not have cancer, I would be working full time and would not be able to see my granddaughter Maggie as often. Fortunately I’ve been able to spend some quality time with our daughter and granddaughter. Maggie is the apple of my eye and the heart of my heart.
Along the way, more good has come from my diagnosis. Wherever we go, we try to help other people who are going through cancer too. Helping others is where our strength comes from, as well as our peace. We have joined the CTCA Cancer Fighters® Care Net to offer support and encouragement to others who have been diagnosed with cancer. We’ve also been participating in a CTCA program called Our Journey of Hope®, which offers training and support for cancer ministry. We’re hoping it will help us develop a support group for families and caregivers of cancer patients.
I believe when you go through something like this, you realize what's important. What matters is what you do with the life you have. I'm still fighting the battle, but at least I feel there's a light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope.