In April 2012 I was diagnosed with inoperable stage IV pancreatic cancer and my world changed forever. I vividly remember being told that I may not be alive to see the birth of my second grandchild, who was due in 3 months. I don’t remember feeling scared, but I remember thinking I needed a plan.
My husband and I chose Dr. Takahashi at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute as my oncologist, a decision for which we have been grateful ever since, and he indeed had a plan for me.
I began treatment in May and was scheduled to have twelve, bi-weekly, five-hour infusions of the strongest and most effective chemotherapy combo available for pancreatic cancer. I made it through seven of them before my body was too weak to continue, but those seven treatments knocked my tumor markers down and by December Dr. Takahashi said I was in remission!
I still needed treatment to manage my cancer, but the drugs were much milder and far more tolerable. I regained all of my strength, my hair grew back, I started hiking again, and I continued to enjoy every possible minute with my grandkids. Last May I walked a half marathon with my youngest daughter and we took the opportunity to raise awareness and money for pancreatic cancer research. After our race I was honored to present to Dr. Takahashi and his colleagues $4,000 in donations from our team supporters for pancreatic cancer research. I am so grateful to him and his team at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.
My husband and I have learned to be grateful for this cancer because of all the amazing people who have come into our lives. I’m still on this incredible journey, but I am not alone. My entire family has been blessed by the love and support of hundreds of people. Random acts of kindness and miracles continue to surprise us. Our faith continues to be our strength to endure and to give us hope. We are living intentionally, making time to do what I love to do, dealing with the unexpected, and always believing that I will be cured.
In September 2013 the FDA approved a brand new chemo combination and researchers recently found it to be more effective in shrinking pancreatic tumors like mine. After three treatments I have already seen positive results! It has given hope to patients all over the world and it has brought us closer to a cure than ever before.
Every gift supporting cancer research and care at OHSU counts toward the historic Knight Cancer Challenge to raise $500 million by Dec. 31 2015. If we meet this challenge, the Knight family will make a separate $500 million contribution to advance the Knight Cancer Institute’s vision to end cancer as we know it. Please join me and take advantage of this opportunity to leverage your donation to the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.