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Facing Life's Challenges

John Sherry has had two surgeries for his pancreatic cancer, but he is feeling good now.
BY Lets Win! Pancreatic Cancer
PUBLISHED May 29, 2020
I went to the emergency room with intense abdominal pain in August 2015.

I had stomach pain after a dinner out with my wife, and when the pain did not go away after a day, I went to the hospital. I was diagnosed with an inflamed gall bladder and pancreatitis, and had surgery to remove the gall bladder. At a post-surgery visit, my GI doctor suggested I have an endoscopy, because he noticed a pinch in my bile duct. The endoscopy showed pancreatic cancer. I was so surprised, because I have always been healthy, I exercised, and I had no symptoms.

A Treatment Plan

My goddaughter is an oncologist specializing in pancreatic cancer, so I called her for advice. She arranged for me to meet Dr. Gregory Springett, an oncologist, and Dr. Pamela Hodul, a surgeon, at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. We live in Winter Park, which is not too close but not too far. I had another endoscopy and then we set up a treatment plan.

First, I had surgery to remove the tail of my pancreas and my spleen. The surgery showed that the pancreatic cancer had not spread, so I was stage II. This was followed by six months of chemotherapy with gemcitabine, and radiation treatments. My wife and I drove from home to Moffitt for my weekly treatments. Other than a lack of energy, I did not have notable side effects.

When the treatment was done in March of 2016, I had a new normal.

Second Time Around: Whipple Procedure

In 2017, my wife and I had just returned from a cruise celebrating our 50th anniversary when she noticed that I looked yellow. I suggested I had eaten too many yellow foods, but my wife insisted I was jaundiced. So, we went back to Moffitt, where we found that my pancreatic cancer had returned.

In November 2017 Dr. Hodul performed a Whipple procedure. Then I had more chemotherapy with gemcitabine and Xeloda, with Dr. Richard Kim.

I have some neuropathy in my feet and nerve damage in my right leg. But overall, I am feeling good.
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