May 19, 2010 - 7:07 pm
I feel compelled to write. i've spent the last year of my life devoted to making sure my father-in-law has everything he needs for his fight. I only hope that I can provide something useful to somebody. I am not a healthcare provider. I do however work in a position that requires a close relationship with physicians, and has show me years of experience in how the system works.
My 69 year old Father in law was hospitalized in April of 09 as a result of an unresolving infection. His primary physician who "over tests" ordered a CT scan, and it showed a mass on his pancreas. The whole thing was by accident. He had virtually no syptoms of the cancer, aside from some recent weight loss. I brought him to a Gastroenterologist who I knew very well, and he couldn't get a biopsy because the mass was wrapped around his vein...so I brought him to a surgeon, who is VERY well known in our area and very highly specialized. He referred my father-in-law for a stent. The stent was placed and immediately he had better bowel activity. Apparently this mass was shutting down his bowels. Then I brought him to an oncologist who set him on a Chemo regimen called GTX. By July his PET scan showed complete resolution of his tumor, and what was originally not resectable was gone. They did the Whipple in August 09, because they had to go in anyway. The side effect of his chemo was that his gall bladder got inflammed. The surgeon performed the whipple, he said he found some residue of the cancer, but not much, there was nothing in his lymph nodes and his pathology report showed that his "margins" were clear. They put him on Adjuvant chemotherapy...the same GTX regimen. He was a little less tolerant of it this time around, but still tolerated it pretty well. the next PET scan was clean, but safe then sorry...they took out the T, and just did GX. He had a PET scan yesterday. I received a call from the radiologist this morning. Apparently there was some "uptake" in his bones....He had a shot last week of Neulasta because his blood counts were low, and that is why. The oncologist tells me they will probably put him on just X chemo this time around. He's really sick of being on chemo, but he's been blessed. Its been just a year since he was diagnosed. Frankly its a miracle. The physicians who diagnosed him were referring us to a place that I now know don't manage the patient the way that the physicians I work with do. He probably would have died weeks after diagnosis of a bowel obstuction. Our physicians placed a stent, and treated him, and hoped he would respond, he did. My father in law worked through this whole year, with the exception of his surgical recovery. He's tolerated the chemo amazingly. He's set in his mind to beat this, despite the odds. I do hope that the results of his PET scans continue to be so good!!! Don't give up. GTX, Robert Fine from Columbia Presbyterian in NY, is currently studying this regimen. Our Physicians are upstate, but they use this regimen because they were so impressed by the results. I do hope that more attention is paid to this disease, we really do need to make more progress in the diagnosis and management. xoxoxo