My name is Teri. I’m a 38 year old married mother of six. I have four children of my own and two stepchildren. I had an amazing life; I was a hair stylist by day and a mommy by night. I married the love of my life just nine short months before the worst day of my life.
I was off to work and driving my daughter to school, when I glanced down and noticed that my skin was yellow. I quickly folded down the sun visor in my car and saw that the whites of my eyes were completely yellow. Of course, I was freaking out. I immediately made an appointment with the doctor. He ran lab work, and right before the office closed the nurse called to tell me my liver enzymes were very high, but they couldn’t explain why. As the evening went on I became even more yellow. My husband insisted that we go to the emergency room.
After arriving at the hospital, they started doing the usual lab work. They did a CT scan, as well as a sonogram. It was after the sonogram that I started to feel a terrible amount of pain. After many hours the only thing the doctors had come up with was that, again, my liver enzymes were high and that my gallbladder was full of stones. They said there appeared to be a mass on the head of my pancreas, but they thought it might have been a gallstone that had somehow come out and landed there. After about ten hours in the ER, I was admitted, and surgery was scheduled.
Two days later they did a procedure of sticking something down my throat in order to try to remove the mass. I was not asleep, but the doctors told me that due to the drugs I wouldn’t remember the procedure. I remember everything about it! Needles to say, the procedure was not successful. The next day I was scheduled for another surgery to remove the mass and my gallbladder. It was suppose to be a two hour surgery, but it turned into about a five hour surgery. I had what is called a Whipple surgery. They removed the part of the pancreas with the mass, part of my stomach, part of my small bowel, and of course the gallbladder. I was in the surgical ICU for about two days and then was transferred to a private room.
I was told to expect to be in the hospital for about ten days. The surgery was so very hard to recover from, but I was told I recovered faster than anyone the doctor had ever seen; maybe it was my age or maybe it was my determination to get back to my life, and my husband, and my kids at home. They told me it would take several days to get the pathology report back. My surgery was on a Saturday. On Wednesday my doctor came in. The results had come back that it was in fact cancer. She said it was small bowel cancer and that it was also in eight of ten lymph nodes. I was crushed and very scared. The doctor specifically said that this was small bowel cancer, so don’t get that confused with pancreatic cancer because that would be bad.
The following morning my new oncologist came in to meet me and explain a little more about my cancer. He said it was adenocarcinoma aka pancreatic cancer! What?! She was very clear just yesterday that it was NOT pancreatic cancer. My heart just sank. We all know the story of Patrick Swayze, and we know what his outcome was.
After my ten days in the hospital I was released, but only to my mom’s. I had to promise to get a couple more days of rest before I returned home to the husband, kids, and dogs. A few weeks after I got home I was scheduled to have a port put in. That was a piece of cake considering what I had just been through. After about another week my new doctor ordered a PET scan to be completely sure about what kind of chemo he wanted to do. A very long week went by before I finally got the results. I will never forget my mom and I sitting in the room . The doctor came in and told us that it had already spread to my liver. So now I have pancreatic and liver cancer; boy, was that a terrifying thought.
The doctor told me that day we were hitting this with very aggressive chemo. He said I was going to be very sick, I would lose my hair, and I would be too weak to work. Wow, another blow. My first round of chemo was scheduled for the following week. I had no idea about what was about to happen. All I knew was I had stage IV pancreatic cancer. My doctor doesn’t like to give a prognosis, because every case of cancer is different.
Boy, did we hit the chemo hard. I was sick after the first round, and it just went downhill from there. I was hospitalized after my third round because I was no longer able to keep anything down. I truly thought I was a goner. I spent a week in the hospital and that’s when the doctor told me most opt out after the third round because it makes people so sick. Opting out was not an option for me; only living life was. So we hit it hard for the rest of my ten rounds of chemo.
Another PET scan was done after that tenth round of chemo and, to everyone’s surprise, I was in remission. I may have lost over 60 pounds and half of my hair, but I fought the battle like a girl, and I kicked cancers ass! I was diagnosed March of 2011 and went into remission September of 2011. I found out last week after a new scan that I’m still in remission, so there is no sign of cancer. I have been told remission only happens about ten percent of the time with my cancer. I feel very blessed and very happy.
In the last almost year I have gained back the sixty pounds I lost. My amazing doctor said that just doesn’t happen with pancreatic cancer. He calls me his little miracle.
I have gotten back to my normal life as much as I can, but just like most people in remission I live with the daily fear that my cancer is going to come back, because in reality someday it will. For the last 18 months, I’ve been fighting like a girl and will continue to do so. I have so many praying for me, and I truly believe in the power of prayer! Thanks for letting me share my story with you all!!
The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.
This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.