I to am knew to this website and have truly enjoyed hearing everyone's stories. My 37 year old husband became ill on October 7, 2006 with flu like symptoms. A week later his urine and stools became discolored which we attributed to dehydration because of the "flu". Three days later he became jaundice. Of course, we then went to the doctor who thought he may have hepatitis. They did some blood work and it came back that he did not have hepatitis but the blood work showed that he had high liver enzymes. He went to the hospital for a ultrasound of his gallbladder (they assumed he had gallstones in his bile duct). The ultrasound showed multiple gallstones and an inflammed gallbladder. We changed Scott to a low fat diet and all of his symptoms and sickness went away.
We went to the hospital on November 1 to have the gallstones removed during an ERCP. The doctor found no gallstones in the bile duct but what he referred to as a stricture. A temporary stint was put in to allow the bile to flow. He told us it was a very serious condition and that we would need to go to Mayo Clinic, KU University, St. Louis or some other major hospital. This was not something that could be taken care of in a local hospital. We left our local hospital not even thinking that it was cancer.
We were given an appointment for November 3rd. with Dr. Romano Delcore at Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City, KS. He immediately began talking about pancreatic cancer. We were totally shocked. We had come for gallstones and an inflammed gallbladder. I should say that my husband's family has a large history of pancreatic cancer. His paternal grandmother died of pancreatic cancer as did her father and two syblings. Another brother died of gallbladder cancer and the other died of a form of leukemia. We had the "Whipple" speech and walked away feeling down and out. We then were sent for a EUS (endoscopic ultrasound) which showed that my husband had Stage 3 pancreatic cancer. The cancer was in his bile duct, pancreas and at least one lymph node but not to his liver. How fast life can change in one month!!
We went back to Dr. Delcore's on November 20th. Dr. Delcore said he was not sure if he would be able to remove the tumor. The ultrasound had shown the tumor very close to the portal vein. Also, if he had gotten in there and found that it had actually spread beyond those areas he would not be able to resect the tumor. In that case he would bypass the tumor to remove the blockage and close Scott up. Dr. Delcore said he would know about 4 hours into the surgery. Scott had then asked him what he could expect for a life expectancy. Flat out, Dr. Delcore said about 18 months if they are unable to remove the tumor. I walked out of his office thinking unacceptable. We are 37 years old and have two children (9 and 12) we have a lot of life ahead of us.
On November 28, Scott went to KU Medical Center for the Whipple procedure. I sat in the waiting room receiving periodic updates as to what was going on. Finally, at 1:25 the nurse came out to tell me that they were going to procede with the surgery. Dr. Delcore felt confident in removing the tumor and surrounding effected areas. Scott came out of surgery at 6:45 p.m. almost 10 hours after he went in. I was able to talk to him around 9:00. He looked great and even sounded good. He called me the next morning at 5:00 and just wanted to talk! He had a rough couple of days trying to get his pain medicine right. He was up and walking around the day after his surgery and walking about 1 mile a day two days after his surgery. He was determiined to beat this!! Our doctor had told Scott prior to surgery, "the bed is your enemy you want to be out of it."
A week after his surgery, Dr. Delcore came in and told Scott that Christmas had come early for him. It turns out that he has Bile Duct cancer not pancreatic. We know that it is still not good but better than pancreatic. They also did find 4 malignant lymph nodes out of 12. They were the 4 closest to the tumor. Scott was released on December 8th.
We went to Florida for three days on December 15th. He felt great but was a little tired. We had a great Christmas and are thankful for all the days that we have together.
Thursday, of this week January 18, 2007 Scott received his first chemo. treatment. They are going to use Gemcitabine once a week for two months. He will then begin radiation for six weeks along with a chemo. pill (5FU). He will then go back to 3 weeks on and one week off of the Gemcitabine for three months. We are not sure what effect this will have, but we do know that we are young and that we will do whatever it takes to beat this terrible disease. We have a lot to live for!!
My husband has not missed a day of work since getting sick in October except for his days in the hospital, the day of his EUS and ERCP and the month he had to take off of surgery. To see him, even before surgery you would've thought he was just a healthy guy. He continues to work and feel great. I guess that is what makes this all so "Wrong".
I would definitely recommend Dr. Delcore for anyone needing the Whipple. He does approximately 40 surgeries a year. The staff at KU Medical Center was wonderful. They have given us hope and promise for the future!!