This is John's story told by his daughter Dawn.
John never had any significant health problems and his only complaint was his stomach due to excessive belching. It was this symptom, followed by an endoscopy and elevated bilirubin levels that eventually led to his diagnosis.
"We headed to Sloan with him, remaining positive because if anyone could have a recovery after a Whipple, it would be him."
Unfortunately, that day they learned there were 2 spots on his liver, and he had stage IV pancreatic cancer. His Whipple procedure was canceled, and he was to begin chemo immediately.
In addition, due to the position of the tumor, his biliary duct was being blocked causing elevated bilirubin, resulting in jaundice and horrible generalized itching. A stent was placed in order to relieve this.
John responded to chemo well; his body was strong, and his attitude remained both positive and determined. He stayed active and continued to enjoy his beach house and handyman projects. "Dad was a truck driver blessed with a gift in carpentry and the ability to figure out how to fix just about anything, including cars!
He was a true perfectionist as well as a frustrated Mets and Jets fan, but he still enjoyed watching them play."
John's 3-year battle consisted of several stent replacements, several blood transfusions, and he was no longer able to enjoy his meals. Chemotherapy had debilitated his body, and seven months prior to his passing, he became septic to the point that they almost lost him.
Still, John managed to remain emotionally strong for his family. By January 2014, although he stayed active, his legs began to swell, and blood clots formed in his legs. John's body was tiring, and he began to verbalize what he felt the plans should be after he was gone.
John was hospitalized a few times over the next couple of months and by the end of March, a hospital bed was placed in the living room. Although John remained strong, he began to develop ascites which made it difficult for him to breathe. His legs had become so swollen that they began weeping and it became too difficult for him to get out of bed.
The once big, strong, handsome, healthy man who worked his whole life to provide for and take care of his family, was now weak and deteriorating before their eyes.
John lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on 4/21/14, after spending Easter with his family and eating his last Easter pie, made by his youngest son. John was a man who was respected for his honesty and wisdom. He was a man people would go to for sound advice.
Dawn writes, "Never once did I hear him really complain, except for the early on itching. My father was a true warrior during his 3-year battle. It beat his body but not his strong spirit. He is truly missed ?"
Thank you to Dawn and all of John's family for being brave enough to share the raw truth of pancreatic cancer.