Stage IV pancreatic cancer survivor: Why I’m giving back through the Moon Shots Program

Two summers ago, my daughter Claire was about to start her freshman year at the University of Alabama. So, I thought being a 54-year-old empty-nester would be my biggest problem. When I discovered it would actually be stage IV pancreatic cancer, I was shocked, to say the least. My pancreatic cancer symptoms Until the day I was diagnosed, I’d always considered myself pretty healthy. I played tennis, practiced yoga and ate a mostly vegetarian diet. I took really good care of myself. But in late June 2016, I discovered two little lumps on my left clavicle, so I went to see my general practitioner. I figured the lumps were swollen lymph nodes, due to a really bad sinus infection. It never occurred to me that they could be pancreatic cancer. I felt a little tired, but it was a “normal” tired. And I had no other symptoms. My pancreatic cancer diagnosis First, my doctor ordered an ultrasound. Then he said I needed a biopsy. The results stunned both of us: stage IV adenocarcinoma of the pancreas. I had pancreatic cancer. I come from a large family, and the Irish-Catholic side has seen a lot of cancer diagnoses. Everyone told me to get to MD Anderson as soon as possible, so I made an appointment there. At MD Anderson, I met with Robert Wolff, M.D. He confirmed my pancreatic cancer diagnosis and prescribed a six-month chemotherapy regimen. Starting in July 2016, I received a cocktail of three intravenous drugs every 15 days, for a dozen doses in all. And I’ve shown no evidence of disease since January 2017. My experience...