The stage 4 pancreatic cancer survivor story on this page is excerpted from that of a patient with stage 4 pancreatic cancer that received customized cancer treatment from Dr. Keith Block at the Block Center for Integrated Cancer Therapy in Skokie, IL.
The Block Center is one of our recommended Cancer Centers and Dr. Block is one of our recommended Cancer Doctors. A more detailed discussion of standard of care chemotherapy and of the customized and personalized care provided to cancer patients by Dr. Block can be found on our Cancer Centers, Cancer Doctors and Cancer Therapy Options pages.
And now for the Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer Survivor Story.
I was treated at the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment for Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, which was diagnosed in 2004. I was surprised to find out I had a large tumor that had spread to my liver, over around and thru my portal vein and was growing there, too. I had no symptoms.
A virus shared by our office caused four of us to seek emergency room treatment for bloating and pain one weekend. The doctor there said my lab work suggested it was viral BUT... one of my liver enzymes was slightly elevated, which could be an indication of gall stones, and suggested I follow up on that. I did since my mom's side has a big family history of gall stones. I had never had symptoms but figured, why wait till I was in pain from that?
An ultrasound revealed a large, grapefruit-sized tumor in my pancreas, and three more in my liver. I visited a few different clinics, seeking their opinion... most of whom said "too advanced," "3 months max," "you are terminal," "chemo doesn't work for pancreatic cancer," "there's nothing else to do". One told me I could be a participant in a blind trial, which meant I would not know if I was getting the chemo or not.
Then the lights went on bright...I was warmed by the warmth and caring of two doctors at the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment. Their program analyzes where you are, what is your chemical, timing, nutritional, and physical condition. This information enables them to prescribe an intensive personal treatment program designed just for you.
They give you the real story, no sugar coating, but they give you hope. Hope for a better quality of life, hope for survival and hope to flourish. Their program involves eating to keep you at optimal health, peak immune health. I was told to eat to help to starve the cancer, to let my body fight the ability for the cells to reproduce, to keep my blood counts strong and healthy while the chemo destroyed the cancer and a few good cells along the way. My diet was specific, a diet I follow today...no dairy, no red meat, no sugar, lots of veggies, beans, non-meat sources of protein. I have a large vitamin and supplement routine that keeps my body defenses at their peak. I exercise and enjoy life.
My experience at the Block Center was absolutely, unbelievably wonderful. I was not sick thru 20 months of chemotherapy. The regimen was every three weeks, in the beginning 4 days/3 days alternating. As I got well, it was reduced. I was given chrono-modulated chemotherapy that worked with my body’s time-clock, to give me chemo at the most effective times of my day and night. I lost my hair.
Their program gives you tools for how to live with the cancer. Tools like how to face it, how to help your family deal with it. How to imagine it shrinking in quiet moments of your day. Your mind has a lot to do with its healing. Your spiritual connection...very important. Exercise and breathing exercises to get oxygen into your cells to keep them resistant to the cancer. Relaxation and meditation.
Recipes, taste tests... They deal with the whole person, not just your disease. They are proactive, not reactive. They know what you will experience and how you will deal with it and tell you what to do if you have symptoms of swelling feet or achy legs. They explain why, and are there with the armor you need to defend yourself. And, they are great working with your insurance company and negotiating your care.
The Block Center is located in Skokie, IL. I live in Green Bay, WI, and we drove back and forth every day for my chemo. Many patients stayed locally. The hotels will work with you and give you special pricing if you visit there regularly. I want to encourage you to seek a better quality of care. It is your life …you have choices, use them.
We have to search for what is going to be the best fit, the best chance to survive and LIVE for whatever time we will have on this earth, and a quality of life that can be enjoyed. It is now 2013. I'm still here with the Block program under my belt and by my side. All of the other doctors told me “you’re terminal,” or “3 months max.” I chose to not listen to them, I chose LIFE. I found it at the Block Center.
NOTE: The above account was excerpted and summarized from blockmd.com
For additional stage 4 pancreatic cancer survivor stories see Pancreatic Cancer Survivors-Patients of Dr. Robert Nagourney
For cancer survivor stores of people with other types of cancer see our Cancer Survivor Stories page