Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Name Tag That Says 'SURVIVOR'

It's time to share some good news from our family.
John has been declared a 'Survivor'!
What that really means will be revealed only by the passage of time, but right now it means the following:

• John's radical surgery was successful and his recovery has been good.

• John's chemotherapy & radiation treatment, rough as it was, was also completed and is considered successful.

• John is now gaining weight and strength, and has a positive, but realistic, attitude about his future.

• John still faces 4 months of greatly reduced level chemotherapy, starting next month, as an insurance measure.

• John understands and accepts that he will need periodic tests, awareness of his condition, and consciously modified eating and living habits for the rest of his life.

• The standard medical definition of 'survivor' means 5 additional years of quality life after treatment.

There may be other meanings and interpretations, but these should suffice for now.

The above news came last Thursday in Seattle, after Cat-Scan, X-Ray and Blood Test results were known, and my Doctor communicated them to me.
This was cause for celebration, which took the form of palpable relief and a quiet dinner with a friend with whom my wife and I were to spend the night.

The next day, Friday May 1, we, along 200-300 others, attended the 2nd Annual Pancreatic Cancer Symposium at a waterfront hotel.
Strange as it may seem, this event was inspirational, largely because 20% or more of those present were survivors like me.
You could tell by their name tags, made distinctive by the purple ribbon emblazoned with the word 'SURVIVOR' on it.

And, the presentations were interesting, too.
All of the slides used were reproduced and included in a loose-leaf notebook which will provide a handy and helpful reference.
Suffice to say, there is a lot to know about this subject and therefore much work to be done to make prevention, diagnosis, treatment and recovery more certain and reliable.

I volunteered to help the organization called Pancreatic Cancer Action Network [PanCan] spread its information and help find a cure.
This organization's mission is advance research, support patients, and create hope.
It's website, , contains much helpful information.

So, this old bird has been lucky enough to beat the odds, so far.
Believe me, it has been some rough going!
But, it was worth it, and we are fortunate to live in an area with such excellent medical care available.

Just as important has been the support we have received from friends and family.
For that we are eternally thankful!