Time to Meet the Pancreatic Oncologist…Dr. Death

I trust my doctor.

I do believe he is very invested in my health.  It takes a different kind of person to work with pancreatic cancer patients since we mostly die. Maybe it’s just the job itself that turns you into a different kind of person.

When we met my oncologist and his team of nurse practitioner and nurse, their main goal seemed to be to help me understand that pancreatic cancer is a fatal disease.

What about treatment – won’t that help?  What about remission – doesn’t that happen? I kept asking questions looking to find the magic door out of this disease.  And the answer that came back to each of my questions is that I have a fatal disease. 

Is Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer a Fatal Disease?

My husband bravely asked how long I had to live.  Without treatment, most people live for about a year.

I have a fatal disease.

There are only two protocols of treatment. They begin with one and when it stops working, they try the next one.  Then, there’s the potential option of clinical trials. But, that’s about it. And they all eventually stop working.

I have a fatal disease.

Due to the focus on fatal disease, we dubbed the doctor a new name: Dr. Death.  The upside was that if he said anything positive, we would definitely believe him.

And lately, he has been very positive. I have small, slow growing tumors. And that’s good. Really good. It’s like a temporary remission, even though remission doesn’t really exist with stage 4 metastasized pancreatic cancer.

I have grown to depend on his honesty and directness. He’s become my true link to information; much better than the Internet!

He has also become very invested in my continued health. He likes that I am focused on being super healthy – exercising, eating well, traveling. He believes this is helping so that helps me continue my healthy habits even when I don’t want to!  After my last CAT scan, when the doctor left the room, the nurse quietly turned to me and said that my good scan “made his day”.

I trust my doctor.

Would you trust your doctor to manage your care if you had a fatal disease?

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This is my blog about living my life with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer—End stage. I joked about writing this imaginary blog when I spent a year on a treatment that allowed me only 10 days to feel well enough to live a fairly normal life. (Actually normal doesn’t even really exist for me anymore!) To earn those good days, I spent the previous 10 days living in post-chemo treatment physical hell – that also became normal in a perverse way. I’m also writing to honor those who are diagnosed with Stage Four Pancreatic Cancer. You might live longer than you expect and I want you to have someone who tells you what that’s like. There aren’t many role models for people with this because, well, they’re usually gone. So, this is for you. Maybe your journey will be similar to mine. Actually, it will probably be very different because “everyone is different.” Even still, maybe this will still be a bit of a guide.

One thought on “Time to Meet the Pancreatic Oncologist…Dr. Death”

  1. Although some of this is hard to hear, it is also heartwarming. The care and attention of your doctor and your reliance on his honesty and expertise is a beautiful aspect of this hardship.

    Liked by 1 person

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