Last week, The Outdoors Guy had labs and a CT scan for pancreatic cancer he was diagnosed with on May 8, 2015.
Yes, it has been 5-plus years since his diagnosis!!
What makes this so incredible is pancreatic cancer survival rates, according to the American Cancer Society, “Are grim. For one year, the survival rate is 20 percent and the five-year survival rate is just 7 percent.”
For four years following chemo, radiation and surgery, Bob’s scans and tests have been clean. And, we are so thankful last week’s results gave us the same fantastic news!!! The CT scan shows no sign of the tumor. Plus, his labs are within normal range.
Unstageable cancer is uncommon. Leave it to The Outdoors Guy for his to be unstageable throughout his illness.
Back in 2015, his surgeon at Mayo-Rochester, Dr. Mark Truty, reminded us that Bob had a very bad cancer. At the time of diagnosis he was borderline, meaning he only had a 50/50 chance to live until surgery.
After Bob’s first 25 treatments of the strongest chemo allowed, Dr. Truty's plan for the next phase of treatment was five weeks of radiation five times a week, and then, hopefully surgery.
Afterward, Dr. Truty said, "You are doing better than average! Most people who make it this far survive! The tumor is pulling away (from the artery)!!"
Dr. Truty said the tumor had shrunk from five centimeters to three. He also told us the scan showed no evidence of metastatic disease! Surgery, called the Whipple Technique, was scheduled for Jan. 22, 2016, in Rochester. Despite a pre-surgical laproscopy that showed the tumor had not metastasized and surgery could proceed, we got word Dr. Truty was closing much sooner than expected.
Dr. Truty met with us in a consultation room and proceeded to tell us that when his team opened The Outdoors Guy to begin surgery, he found something he had never seen before. Bob’s entire abdominal cavity was covered with scar tissue from colon surgery he had in 1989. It was not visible on CT scans or during the laproscopy.
Dr. Truty said the scar from that surgery was not very large. So he was shocked to see scar tissue covering The Outdoors Guy's abdominal cavity. It had adhered to just about everything.
He told us, "When I touched it, the scar tissue was falling apart like wet tissue paper, and trying to work through the scar tissue caused bleeding."
Dr. Truty said just by removing a portion of the tissue from the bowel, it caused enough bleeding that he had to resect the bowel.
Dr. Truty was unable to proceed with removing the tumor or performing the Whipple Technique.
"I felt if I attempted to continue with the procedure, I would lose him," Dr. Truty remarked.
Even though our family was extremely disappointed, we spoke of Dr. Truty's world-renowned level of competence. We were grateful The Outdoors Guy had the best of the best, one who recognized the monumental risk and wasn’t willing to take it.
It was also encouraging when Dr. Truty told us he believed in all likelihood the tumor was dead or nearly dead. He said, "I could not feel the tumor, only a thumb-like impression of where it had been."
After surgery, Bob endured 12 more rounds of chemo followed by blood tests, tumor markers and CT scans every three months. However, in July of 2018, Dr. Paula Gill, his local oncologist, said because his test results continued to be excellent, she could no longer justify testing as often.
It made Bob a little nervous, but he agreed to her plan. Two years later, all continues to be well!!!
As of July 2020, it has been five-plus years since his diagnosis. The Outdoors Guy and our family are so grateful to God for this tremendous gift of life Bob has been given!!!
Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
- Katharina Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel