Jan 02, 2004 - 9:40 pm
Our mother (64 year-old diabetic of three years) just finished having her Pancreas, Gall Bladder, Spleen, small portion of her stomach, and five lymph nodes removed on Tues, Dec 30, 2003. Only her Pancreas had a small tumor in addition to one of the five lymph nodes. There are no signs of cancer anywhere else: stomach, small intestine, etc. Doctors have advised that they caught this early and rate it as Stage 3 only because of the one lymph node having cancer. For more history, she had pancreatitis attack 20 years ago along with gastritis 12 years ago. At that time, she had CAT scan done and it showed that Pancreas was covered in cysts (but no one said anything about it until this past November 2003 when they compared scans - can you believe that?). In early November 2003, she had another Pancreatitis attack which put her on the chronic list and CAT scans still showed the cysts and recommendation was to remove it asap as it could develop into something worse. All blood tests and CAT scans and even MRIs of the body and brain were OK and showed no signs at all of cancer...only the pesky cysts in her pancreas. The reason the surgery was performed almost two months after last attack was because she needed to get better before they attempted the surgery. She was in one hospital for almost one month and this was way over their heads. Luckily, we went to another hospital with doctors and surgeons who deal with this type of issue quite often.
The operation proved to be beneficial in our minds and that of the doctors as the cysts were a combination of non-cancerous, cancerous, and about to be cancerous. There was no point in saving any portion of the pancreas so it was removed along with the rest as indicated above. The doctors were very intrigued with the state of her pancreas as it was very sick and unusual for a non-smoker and non-drinker. She has had diabetes for three years ago and this combined with chronic pancreatitis probably led to her condition. One thing that baffles us: If CAT scan from 12 years ago showed cysts and she got diabetes, why didn't her doctors think to explore the condition of her pancreas even further and really at the time she got diabetes THREE years ago? We just do not get it.
All of the doctors (Gastro, Surgeon, Internal Medicine, Oncology, etc.) are liking how she is recovering post surgery. She was alert/awake the evening of the surgery and she has remained in stable condition with awesome vital signs with the exception of mildly high blood pressure today. We are amazed at how she looks and how she is doing. She will be leaving ICU in about two days for a private room. After she gets better in about 14-30 days, she will need chemo and radiation per doctors as preventative measure. Again, there are no signs of cancer anywhere else, but they do not know if there are microscopic cells so it's needed just to be on the safe side.
Now, based on the above information, we remain optimistic on her chances as we read many cases where surgery was not even possible. The only concern is that they found signs in one of the lymph nodes so spreading has occurred. We do not know if more spreading has transpired and it is frustrating.
What are you general thoughts about our mother based on your or your family members experiences? In addition, what are the questions we need to be asking the doctors? We feel she is in very good hands, but do not want to miss a beat.
Thank you for your time and God bless!
P.S. Has anyone had a total pancreatectomy in South Florida?