‘My Dad’s Terminal Disease May Have Saved My Life’
n late June, I got a phone call from my father. “I have some bad news.” The tone in his voice told me that it was serious and my heart sank. “I’ve been having pain in my belly for a few months and they found a mass in my pancreas.” I am a doctor of internal medicine and immediately knew this was indeed terrible news.
The median survival for pancreatic cancer, which I strongly suspected he had, is just a few months. My father’s mother, my grandmother, died of pancreatic adenocarcinoma in her early 70s when I was a young teenager. His father and brother died of esophageal cancer in their early 50s. Cancer is a part of our family story.
During our first visit to the oncologist, we learned that my 73 year old father’s disease was at stage 4 and had spread to his liver. This is not unusual as pancreatic cancer is often detected…