For several weeks during July 2013, Sherri was following up on some increasing abdominal pain and elevated liver function tests. Preliminary diagnosis was gallstones based on the pain, but an ultrasound and then an MRI showed some suspicious shadows on her pancreas, dilated ducts, and liver lesions. On Aug 5, she went to Fox Chase Cancer Center for an outpatient endoscopic procedure (EUS and ERCP) to take a closer look and grab some cell samples. Complications (including bacteremia) landed her back in the hospital for the rest of the week , and on Thu Aug 8 they delivered us the news that the cells in both her pancreas and liver were positive for pancreatic cancer (adenocarcinoma of pancreatic origin).
We picked up the pathology reports on Mon Aug 12, and found out that any spread of the cancer from the pancreas to another organ (in this case the liver) automatically classifies the cancer as Stage IV. On Thu Aug 15, we met with an oncologist at Fox Chase who specializes in pancreatic cancer treatment. During this meeting, he confirmed that surgical options are not effective once the cancer has metastasized, and that Sherri should start a chemotherapy regimen as soon as possible.
We’ve been told that the outlook for pancreatic cancer has improved over the last year or so, and that we shouldn’t put too much stock in the stories out there on the internet. Just passing that along.