Dovile talks about being diagnosed with a rare type of pancreatic tumour. She shares her experience of treatment and the challenges she faces in her road to recovery.
As strange as this sounds I got accidentally hit in the stomach and the next morning I saw a bulge right in between my ribs. I didn’t think much of it thinking it’d go away. A week or so went by and it was still there, no pain and no discomfort. I saw my GP and was told it’s most likely period bloating, although I knew that wasn’t it.
My diagnosis came as a shock
I convinced the GP to refer me to the hospital for a CT scan and soon after they told me that I had a very rare tumour in my pancreas called a SPEN (solid pseudopapillary neoplasm). They said that most likely this tumour was benign but they couldn’t be 100% sure.
They told me there would be no point in doing a biopsy as the tumour was growing and would eventually do damage to my inside if not removed. It was already pressing on a vein in which I had to have portal vein reconstruction. I had to have the Whipple’s procedure to remove the whole tumour.
Having surgery and recovery in hospital
A week before surgery I had to begin taking Creon to get my body used to it as this was going to be something I would have to take long term. On 8th November 2021 around 8am I was the first patient to go into surgery. I woke up around 5pm.
I spent four days in the intensive care unit and 11 days in hospital. I had physiotherapy to help me walk again and I needed to use a piece of equipment a couple times per day to strengthen my breathing. I had no food intake for the first four days. When I returned home, I could barely eat and vomited a lot. I had no energy and was in pain.
Starting to heal and learn to cope with the challenges
Over time things got better as I started healing. It has been 11 months now and I still vomit after most meals. After speaking to the dietitian they diagnosed me with dumping syndrome. Still to this day I am learning what I can eat and coping with the dumping syndrome.
It turned out that the tumour was benign, but it needed to be removed anyway because of the damage the growth would do. I now need CT scans every 6 months to check for any re-growth. It seems never ending but I am lucky to be here.