My father passed away at 3:39 pm on Wednesday, June 27, 2007. I was holding his right hand and my mother his left. I will miss him more than anyone can imagine, but I know his pain and suffering has ended.
Prior to 2006 my dad was a 6’3”, 270 pound man that had developed a mental and physical toughness only the U.S. Marine Corp could instill in a man. As a man who was a CPA for 30 years, had two college degrees and was an avid fan of history he was often referred to as the smartest person that many of the people who met him knew.
In early March 2006 my dad’s unexplainable weight loss (reaching a low of 138 pounds), sudden increase in blood sugar and severe acid reflux were identified by his doctor as pancreatic cancer.
Because the pancreas is located deep inside the body, early tumors cannot be seen or felt by health care providers during routine physical exams. Patients usually have no symptoms until the cancer has spread to other organs. Due to the location of his tumor, in the head of the pancreas, we found it early and had some hope of success in fighting this disease. Overall, only about 5% of all people with pancreatic cancer will still be alive 5 years after diagnosis.
On April 5, 2006, my dad underwent the Whipple procedure to remove the tumor from his pancreas. This aggressive surgery lasted several hours and resulted in the removal of his spleen, entire pancreas due to the size of the tumor, gallbladder, 30% of his stomach and almost three feet of his intestines.
Following the surgery, my family got the good news that the cancer hadn’t spread and that the surgery was a success. We were also warned that we would most likely see the cancer come back as pancreatic cancer was known to keep viciously attacking the body.
This surgery was followed by a stay in the ICU unit for almost a month as my dad battled to wake up from an unexpected coma. He “celebrated” his 60th birthday in the ICU after being awake only a few days.
Once my dad was released from the hospital he had the pleasure of 30 radiation treatments and has since gone through 3 rounds of chemotherapy. My dad spent the last months of his life in and out of the hospital for dehydration, low blood levels and a surgery to remove a few small cancerous spots from his liver.
Despite all his heroic fighting of this disease, my dad’s time on this earth came to an end. His body couldn’t absorb the protein necessary to keep his muscles healthy and working.
My dad was my best friend, a strong and caring man who was always willing to help others when they needed him without them asking. He always taught me to do my best, try my hardest and to remember that family comes first. I am extremely lucky to have had a father like him to raise me and make me the man, husband and father that I am today.
During my research of this horrible form of cancer, I learned that there are currently no blood tests or easily available screening tests that can accurately detect early cancers of the pancreas.
Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer death in the United States . It is the 3rd leading cause of cancer death among 40-59 year old men. In 2006, an estimated $66.7 million dollars of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) cancer research investment was spent on pancreatic cancer research. This is just 1% of the NCI’s $4.8 billion dollar cancer research budget for 2006.
I made a promise to my dad that while I can’t commit to him that I will cure pancreatic cancer, I will do my best to make sure people know about it and that during my lifetime it gets the funding needed to thoroughly research it. It is time to take action against a disease that has been ignored for too long and we must make funding for pancreatic research a priority.
Although you may have already donated to another cause, any amount, from $5 to $1,000, will make a difference in the fight against pancreatic cancer. Please donate to help me fulfill my promise to my father.
Donating through this site is simple, fast and totally secure. It is also the most efficient way to donate.
Please visit www.pancan.org to learn more about the organization that your donations will support