This is a big-deal, important day for me. A time to celebrate: It is two years ago today that I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Let me explain how amazing that is. Only about 10 percent of pancreatic cancer patients are even eligible for the Whipple procedure, an extensive surgery that is the only treatment for this cancer. Of the patients who undergo the Whipple many, like me, follow up with chemotherapy and/or radiation.
According to several medical websites, the five-year survival rate after a Whipple procedure is about 20 to 25 percent. My surgery took place two years ago minus three weeks from today.
The downside is that for the past five or six weeks, I have had a terrible breathing problem. Sometimes I can't get to the mailbox or even from the back bedroom to the kitchen without needing to stop a couple of times to catch my breath.
I saw the oncologist earlier this week. It has been difficult for them to book a pulmonologist in a reasonable length of time (NOT September) so they are doubling down to find an earlier appointment for me to deal with this breathing difficulty.
Meanwhile, I'm on an inhaler which helps a little but I still can't walk more than a few feet without need to stop to catch my breath. Really irritating.
The oncologist has halted my chemotherapy for two months (four infusions) because it is affecting other organs including my heart. The pulmonologist will address these breathing issues.
So I'm on hold until a pulmonologist is found to see me soon but the oncologist, referring to my life-span, appears to think I'm not going anywhere anytime soon either.
One difficulty with cancer and chemo is that both of them eat up calories faster than a healthy body but it is important not to lose weight. This is not easy since the disease and chemo also steal the patient's appetite. I have a new pill now which improves my appetite – no more forcing food when I feel full.
But here's the best news. The particular kind of chemotherapy I've been taking precludes eating or drinking cold foods and drink because the chemo, in those instances, closes up the esophagus. But now, the next couple of months without chemo means I can – wait for it - EAT ICE CREAM AGAIN.
Ice cream's high calorie and high fat count will go a long way toward helping keep up my weight and even better, it's one of my two favorite foods.
So hurray for me. And hurray for all of you who have been supportive in so many ways since this disease interrupted my otherwise long and healthy life two years ago.
Thank you all for being there for me through these two years. Maybe you'll share some ice cream with me.