Radio Interview About My Cancer Journey

Last week, I did a radio interview about the purpose of my new book Surviving Cancer and Embracing Life: My Personal Journey.

 As with the book, the interview is uplifting and describes how I have gotten through my time with pancreatic cancer. The book is free by clicking here. 

You may access the full interview by clicking below. [Note: In the near future, I will be dividing the interview into much smaller clips. :-)]

 

We Are NOT Alone — Part 1

This is another excerpt from my book Surviving Cancer and Embracing Life: My Personal Journey. It is available FREE by clicking here.

It may be hard for you to believe that I am a very private individual when it comes to all aspects of my personal life. After all, here I am opening myself up in a way I never would have dreamed of before. But my community helped to show me how cathartic it could be for me to share my getting pancreatic cancer with other people outside of the community. I’d like to think that in this intense situation I finally realized the true value of communication and sharing. It is only by letting others in that they may help us in our journey.

I also learned much more about how not to be so judgmental of others (and myself, too). We all approach good times and bad, adrenaline rushes, fear, thoughts of our own mortality, etc. in much different ways. It took me a while, but I finally got it that some of my friends did not want to think about the “C” word, and therefore avoided me.

This gave me greater thankfulness for those who were there with me through the toughest parts of my journey. It must have been hard for them to see me looking like a skeleton (due to my weight loss) with limited mobility and a variety of post-surgery side effects. They never turned away. They were my knights (of both genders) in shining armor.

These are vital socialization observations from “Life After Cancer Treatment: Social and Work Relationships” by Journeyforward.org. Keep them in mind when interacting with others – regardless of your role (survivor, caregiver, etc.):

Having cancer can change relationships with the people in your life. It’s normal to notice changes in the way you relate to family, friends, and other people that you are around every day. And the way they relate to you. When treatment ends, families are often not prepared for the fact that recovery takes time. In general, your recovery will take much longer than your treatment did. Survivors often say that they didn’t realize the time it took to recover. This can cause disappointment, worry, and frustration for everyone. Families also may not realize that the way their family works may have changed permanently as a result of cancer. They may need help to deal with the changes and keep the “new” family strong.

Most cancer survivors who are physically able to work do go back to their jobs. This can help them feel they are getting back to the life they had before being diagnosed with cancer. Whether returning to their old jobs or beginning new ones, some survivors are treated unfairly when they return to the workplace. Employers and employees may have doubts about cancer survivors’ ability to work.

Some friends, coworkers, and others may be a huge source of support, while others may be a source of anger or frustration. Some people mean well, but do not know what to say. Maybe they don’t know how to offer support. Others don’t want to deal with your cancer. If friends and coworkers seem unsupportive, it could be because they are anxious for you or for themselves. Your cancer experience may threaten them because it reminds them that cancer can happen to anyone. Try to understand their fears and be patient as you try to regain a good relationship.

Sometimes the Road Is More Bumpy

As I wrote in my very first blog post for Living Well While Surviving Cancer: “I want to offer hope and support to those dealing with any terrible disease and their families.” At times, this refers to me as well. I’m doing my best to be upbeat and live as well as I can EVERY DAY. Sometimes, that’s not easy.

Last month, my wife Linda and I went on a cruise vacation that we were planning for months. The travel and itinerary both seemed within my capability range. Because of my health issues, we prepare carefully and wait until near the date of each of our trips to book everything. And we always get trip insurance.

The first few days of this trip were fine; and we had a great time. I even tried — unsuccessfully — to take a selfie while sightseeing. I may have a lot of skills, but taking pictures with my phone is not one of them. Yes, that is my hand blocking the scenery. LOL.

Sometimes the Road Is More Bumpy

Unfortunately, there was nothing very funny about the rest of our trip. On the third night of the cruise, I couldn’t stop shivering. And the ship’s doctor decided to send me ashore. We were docked in a good spot and the hospital I was sent to by ambulance was fine.

I was examined right away and admitted to ICU. It turns that somehow I had contracted double pneumonia with sepsis. In addition, I had a fever,  low blood pressure, and a low oxygen level. Pretty scary stuff. I was out of it, so I didn’t really know what was going on. However, Linda was petrified (again).

I was in ICU for 6 days. Then, I spent another 4.5 days in a regular hospital room.  Thankfully, the excellent doctors were able to mostly “fix what ailed me.” When I was able, we returned home.

How am I now, a short time later? My doctors at home tell me it may take up to six weeks to fully get over this illness. They have also ordered me not to fly for another 6 months or so. Nonetheless, I’m feeling much better today and looking forward to every day as it comes.

What’s my moral of the story? The same one I’ve been preaching to myself for years: Live life every day. We really don’t know what is around the corner. We can only play the hand we are dealt, and make the best of it. Yes, this was not my favorite trip by any means. But Linda and I did have a few good days at the beginning. And we have a LOT of memories to look back on and stories to tell. I LOVE YOU LINDA!!

Of course, we have insurance companies to battle with over my medical care, our return home, etc. That is part of what makes life so challenging.

 

I wish you all the very best on any travel you have coming up. And above all, stay well! 

 

Feeling Fortunate – Not Sorry for Oneself

I am truly blessed and appreciate the life I live.  I have never once said “why me?” since I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Rather, I have always asked “how was I so lucky to be diagnosed early enough to be able to have  surgery?” And I try as hard as I can not to be distracted by continuing side effects. Life is great. 🙂

Consider this excerpt from my FREE book on Surviving Cancer and Embracing Life: My Personal Journey:

I consider myself the luckiest man on the earth EVERY DAY. I have felt this way each day since February 12, 2015. That was the date of my Whipple surgery. Why am I the luckiest man alive?

* I have a great family that has been with me every step of the way.

* Because of my endocrinologist, Dr. Joseph Terrana, I was diagnosed very, very early and thus I was able to have surgery because the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes.

* Through the prodigious skill of Dr. Gene Coppa and his team, my Whipple surgery was a great success.

* Due to my excellent oncology team headed by Dr. Jeffrey Vacirca and his right-hand person Diana Youngs, my chemotherapy was conducted with compassion and caring – even when the treatments were the toughest.

* My friends and fellow cancer survivors continue to be there for me.

* Despite the dire prognosis for those with pancreatic cancer, I was able to dance with my daughter and give a toast at her wedding.

* I have been able to continue working and doing what I love.

* I can exercise and keep myself in the best possible shape. (I actually went to the gym while undergoing chemo).

* And my wife Linda and I have traveled since my surgery, including a “restful” vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; a cruise from Amsterdam down to St. Petersburg, Russia; a visit to Curacao; and a family vacation in Eastern Mexico. With more to come!

Feeling Fortunate - Not Sorry for Oneself

Surviving Cancer: Personal Glimpses of Resilience

A while back, I participated in a radio show with two other incredible cancer survivors. Hopefully, you will find this episode to be educational and uplifting. Despite some BIG issues, all three of us are still here — and living life every day.

As host Suzanne Phillips says:

“In this episode, Professor Joel Evans, Patricia Malone, and Dave Berger will share personal glimpses of their diagnosis, treatment and survival from cancer. You will hear about the impact of diagnosis, the role of family and friends. The question of stigma and the response of colleagues. You will hear about the expected and unexpected, the trust in medical teams and the personal factors that each drew upon to keep on going at the roughest of times. These are stories of pain, persistence, fear, gratitude and possibility. These are stories of people who were helped by the wisdom of others who had faced cancer. In this episode, Joel Evans, Patricia Malone and Dave Berger want to pass on their experiences to benefit others. You will not forget them or the resilience they share.”

Click the play icon to listen.

 

Welcome to Living Well with Cancer

We extend a warm welcome to Living Well with Cancer. This blog is for anyone — or your families — dealing with serious health issues. It is written by an extremely lucky pancreatic cancer survivor.

To access a FREE PDF file of Surviving Cancer and Embracing Life: My Personal Journal, please click “Book” in the upper right. There are instructions as well a link to a Kindle E-book version for $0.99. PLEASE share the book with anyone you think needs some inspiration and hope.
 

Why This Blog?

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, even if that light is not as bright as before. And sometimes, we have to fight to see that light. I am NOT a medical professional. I am not alone in my battle with cancer. This is one person’s journey, both the ups and downs – with the strong determination to have the best life possible for as long as possible.

I am a pancreatic cancer survivor. I underwent an 8-½ hour Whipple surgery to remove the cancer. I had a lot of problems during chemo. As a diabetic, I passed out from low blood sugar a few days after finishing chemo. As a result, I had to miss my daughter’s bridal shower. And I had to have cement pumped into my back. I have a lot of other stuff going on. But enough of that. I am NOT complaining. I just want you to see where I have been – and where I still am going.

With this blog, I want to offer hope and support to those dealing with any terrible disease and their families. Why? To quote the late NY Yankee star Lou Gehrig when he was honored at Yankee Stadium while dying from ALS: “Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

Choose to Be Happy