OK, OK… I’ve (Jay) been a little busy chasing down what the heck is going on with my digestive system recently and I’ve probably told you bits and pieces depending on when I spoke with you, how I was feeling at the time, and what I actually thought I knew at the time.
Things have been made very clear over the last couple of days, so I figured it was a good time to share what I now (I think) I know. If you weren’t aware, I had some crazy digestive issues in the beginning of July during a fun trip with Denise to Montpellier, France. My GP back in Dublin diagnosed me with gallstones, so I went in to get checked out. They didn’t see any gallstones but noticed my primary bile duct was completely blocked.
About five weeks have gone by in both Dublin (St Vincents) and Bethlehem (St Lukes) with multiple CT scans, MRIs, Ultrasounds, Endoscopic Ultrasounds, Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatographys - taking four biopsies of the surrounding tissue with no diagnosis. Thank goodness for all our close friends and parents and the support we had during this time, both helping navigate the medical community (Johnna) as well as feeding us and taking care of Connor and Riley (Grabusky’s, Doran’s, Colasurdo’s, McColgan’s, Ozanne’s - ❤). The fear was that there was cancer of the pancreas that no one could find (no one could see anything on any imaging). After some google-fu I found Dr. Katz at MD Anderson in Texas and my surgeon (Dr. Desai) in Bethlehem, PA happened to be acquainted with him as well and reached out. MD Anderson scheduled me to be seen asap. (I found out on a Friday night in Dublin that I needed to be in Houston on Monday (August 20th) morning).
I’ve been extremely lucky in countless ways in this amazing life so far. One more lucky stroke — my wonderful, caring, beautiful parents just so happen to live in Houston, Texas. So I already had a support group, limo service, five star dining and accommodations pre-deployed!
The call from MD Anderson was evidently the magic that was needed. Another CT scan and blood panel were completed (did I mention I no longer care in the slightest if someone jabs me with a needle any more). Next was the meeting with Dr. Katz who immediately spotted the mass on CT near my portal vein. He was hesitant to ask me to undergo another biopsy procedure, but it made complete sense, so … another EUS was done and I’m glad it was. Dr. Katz (and Dr. Weston doing the EUS) found the pancreas cancer, adenocarcinoma, during that procedure (biopsies were processed realtime before they brought me out of sedation).
Now the good news (is that a thing?). It is resectable, this is important; one and a half out of ten patients diagnosed with pancreas cancer are not so lucky. I’m in excellent health; I was told I’m in the top 3 of thousands of patients that made the cut for resectable. All my ‘numbers’ are fantastic, including the markers they look for to determine spread. The surgeons feel that it is localized, of course, this won’t be proven until they can do surgery. So, all in all, I’m a good candidate for resection.
Next steps, I’ll be undergoing surgery (Whipple procedure) Wednesday, August 29th to have the cancer removed. There will be approximately one week of hospital recovery, in which I’ve been told that I could be walking around the hospital the first day. Then I’ll be moving around and taking it easy for approximately another three weeks (no serious work outs yet, so the Filthy-50 will have to wait a few weeks). Following the recovery and the lab results of all the tissue that they remove from me will determine next steps, but it’s common for a six month stint of chemo being required.
So, it’s not a short or even well-defined (I’m used to that) road to a cure, but at least it’s something we can start planning for. Denise and I definitely don’t have all the answers right now, so if it’s not explained here … we really don’t know yet, but we’ll be working closely with family and friends to create the support structure and plan required to make this as painless and supportive as possible for Connor and Riley. We’d, of course, like to allow as little disruption of their goals and education as possible.
Lastly, please restrict sending any queries or communications in regards to “Jay’s Cancer” to Connor or Riley, as nice as the thought is, it may be a bit overwhelming at this point. We appreciate so many people reaching out and offering their thoughts and prayers to us. Keep them coming, please send any correspondence to Jay’s better half (by far), Denise, as she’ll be more ‘plugged in’ during the hospital stay 🙂
Peace & Love!
Jay & Denise
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P.P.S. Please forgive me for my slight attempts at humor, I know that isn’t one of my few gifts!