Tracy, 50, diagnosed in 2013 with inoperable pancreatic adenocarcinoma and liver metastases
My name is Tracy, I am 50 years young and I live in East Sussex with my husband Chris. I have 2 lovely children, Oliver 23, who lives in London and Georgia 20, who is at University in Leeds.
I was diagnosed at the end of November 2013 with metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas and liver metastases.
My story begins in December 2012, when I was experiencing abdominal discomfort, the pain at times was unbearable and the doctors just prescribed omeprazole. This discomfort continued and in April 2013 after a period of excruciating pain and after further visits to the doctor blood tests were carried out. Even though the amylase levels were raised which should have rung alarm bells, something I learnt after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I was given a diagnosis of gastritis. The pain continued for the next 7 months with numerous visits to the doctors and referrals to the hospital gastroenterologist. I finally pleaded for an ultrasound in early November 2013. I know my own body and knew there was definitely something wrong.
The ultrasound showed a mass in the tail of the pancreas and after a CT scan and biopsy my worst nightmare was confirmed, that it had spread to the liver. That night after receiving the news I spent my time reading all the terrible statistics on the internet. I finally found the Pancreatic Cancer UK site which after reading the real life stories and the information on Folfirinox chemo gave me a glimmer of hope and this is why I’m now telling my story.
At the start of my chemotherapy treatment my CA19-9 was 5380. Having met my oncologist I started on Folfirinox chemotherapy on 12th December 2013. I knew this was going to be a tough regime, but, after promising my husband and children I would never give up my battle with this disease, commenced chemotherapy. After 6 sessions of chemotherapy the CT scan showed stabilisation of the liver metastases and a slight shrinkage on the pancreas tumour with a steadily falling CA19-9 tumour marker. The scan after 12 sessions involved a meeting with my oncologist who was beaming and really happy to provide some unexpected news. All liver metastases were gone and there was no evidence of the pancreatic tumour. My CA19-9 tumour marker was now 400.
To date I have had 21 sessions of chemotherapy with the oxaliplatin having been reduced after 16 treatments to 50% due to neuropathy. My CA19-9 has finally hit what is classed as normal at 30. I have tolerated Folfirinox extremely well apart from severe fatigue on days 5, 6, and 7, neuropathy, and thrush in the mouth from days 3-8. Other symptoms have not always been the same with each session and I have learnt to live and deal with these.
My daughter Georgia has spent many hours researching diet and nutrition for people suffering with pancreatic cancer and I strongly believe the change in my diet and introduction of vitamins and supplements (all agreed with my oncologist) has helped to keep me fit and well and allowed me to continue with chemotherapy without suffering from any infections.
Another therapy that has helped me tremendously is finding a wonderful Reiki master who gives me weekly treatments and reflexology. I also have acupuncture to help with the neuropathy.
Keeping me positive is the continued support that I have from my wonderful family and friends. Unlike the dark days at the initial diagnosis my family and I feel positive, more importantly we know what we are dealing with and will keep fighting no matter what.
At the start of my journey with this terrible disease I was told by the specialist who provided me with the terrible diagnosis “you are your own statistic”. So for everyone reading my story never give up...I haven’t...