Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer Prognosis
13 months ago I was diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer with “masses” on my stomach and pancreas too large to remove by surgery or treat with radiation. My oncologist wouldn’t give me a life-expectancy prognosis, but the online figures put pancreatic cancer as the worst cancer, with a life-expectancy of 3-7 months. I made plans accordingly. Now, having had the initial 5 months of chemo (Abraxane and Gemzar), I have once again been given a “vacation from chemo” for 3 more months (8 months now without chemo). I write this only to alert those recently diagnosed that Who knows? Someone has to help lengthen those averages! Hang in there and forget those averages!
My cousin at diagnosis had a poor outcome due to the size of his tumor. He had chemo. meds. directly put into his tumor and the surrounding area. He then did radiation. Every 3 months he had a CT scan that showed the tumor was shrinking in size. A year after diagnosis it was small enough to have surgery and has done well. So, yes forget the averages.
I had head and neck cancer . Tumor in my neck size of golf ball . Also had colon cancer that had moved to liver. Been battling cancer for over a year now. Went over 8 months with out eating. But god blessed me every day. And gave me great peace in my heart. I am ahead in the battle now . Stay positive trust god ❤️
I was diagnosed with stage II pancreatic cancer Oct 23rd 2017. Tumour was at tip of Pancreas and laying close to a critical artery. My course of treatment was for chemotherapy, followed by radiation, and then surgery. The standard treatment at the time was Abraxene and Gemcitabine (Gemzar). However, my Oncologist recommended Folfirinox, a combination of 5 chemo drugs. Treatment was every other week and took about 5 hours per session. My Neu #(ANC) dropped below 1.00 after first or second session. Neulasta injection was added and that improved my WBC. I continued thru 6 sessions. I was ready for radiation. Unfortunately, I developed a rectal bleed and was hospitalized. An ulcer had developed at the head of the tumor. Surgery was ruled out due to location of the tumor and proximity of it to critical artery. I had 10 transfusions over three days but bleeding continued. I was advised that further transfusions could not be done and surgery had to be performed. I had an 8 hour whipple surgery. I believe that surgeon saved my life. Unfortunately the biopsy showed residual remnants of the cancer. Not totally unexpected due to proximity of critical artery. After some physical therapy and home nurse care with a few tubes protruding from my stomach, removed after a few weeks. I began the 34 or so radiation sessions with chemo tablet (zeloda) twice a day during radiation. My CA 19-9 had dropped to 38, almost normal range. A CT scan in July 2018 was relatively clear with no sign of the cancer spreading outside the pancreatic region. Unfortunately, a subsequent scan on Nov 1, 2018 revealed that the cancer had spread to my liver. I am now classified as Stage IV as cancer is inoperable but controllable. I began a new chemo regimen. Abraxine and Gemzar. I immediately had trouble with white blood cell count (WBC) and Abraxine was removed. I began a regimen of Gemzar once a week for 3 weeks and then a week off. Same problem with WBC so regimen was changed to 2 weeks on and I week off and has worked fine for past 6 sessions. I have had some slight neuropathy on the soles of my feet since initial chemo therapy and only gets uncomfortable when I reach 25 minute walk. Discomfort immediately go away once I sit down or lay down.
I can still drive with complete feeling in my feet with pedals. My appetite is good and can eat anything I want. Unfortunately, I entered Type II diabetes recently (I had been borderline for many years). So I have difficulty eating enough to maintain my current weight of 160 lb and 6 Ft tall as chemo dosage is weight based.
I had lost 50 lbs before being diagnosed initially and began to lost another 10 lbs in past 8 months. My only cancer med is creon to help with proper food digestion to replace juices not coming from the pancreas. I started with 3 a day then went to 5 and now take six. For diabetes I take 2.5 MG Glipizide and last week added Metformin 500 MG (both 1 a day). Unfortunately, my chemo regimen contains steroids which drive up my diabetes readings up to 360 It does settle back down and returns to around 145 after a few days. 140 would be in max satisfactory range. Last CT on Jan 25th 2019 showed slight drop in tumor size so treatment seems to be working. My actual sugar involves a small teaspoon of sugar in one large mug of instant coffee per day. All remaining sugar is in food I eat but I try to eat things with low or no sugar. However, finding food low in carbohydrates which turn to sugar is a more difficult matter.
That is my story so far. The main take away is that I am pain free so much so that I can’t believe I am sick. The general statistics for my survival is 6 months. I have no doubt I will be on the right side of those statistics. Ignore them except make sure your affairs are in order with a proper will and power of attorney and an estate trust if that might apply. There are some estate planners all around who will provide free 1 or 2 day seminars and financial planners who also do free seminars and both often throw in a free meal. I also went to a local funeral director and got free advise to include total cost on various options. I’m not giving up just don’t want these things left to my wife or children when the time comes. I am very upbeat and don’t worry about final outcome. I just turned 75 and can do whatever I want just as before my diagnosis. I am on so many church prayer lists wherever we have relatives and many friends from having served 30 years in the united States Air force. However, my wife is actually responsible for most of these lists. Nevertheless, I believe they have played a major part of why I feel so good.
I have rambled on much more than I intended so I apologize for that. By the way, I am also a 9 plus year survivor of prostate cancer. I’ll put that story somewhere else