Pancreatic Cancer: Joseph 'Cook' Edens III First-Person Story

Author: Johns Hopkins Medicine

3 or 4% of the people that are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer even live five years. Did I ever really think about dying? No. Was it in the back of my mind? Sure. And I look at my three kids and my wife and I said it's something I can't, it's not acceptable. And I think the only way you can go on is to fight it. When I first had the pains, I went to my local doctor and they ran some tests, and his diagnosis was pancreatitis. Go on this diet and you'll be fine.

I really wasn't satisfied with that answer. I still was somewhat symptomatic. And I didn't believe that's what it was. It's just something didn't feel right about that.

So we did look nationwide and worldwide for the best place for pancreatitis or pancreatic disease, particularly pancreatic cancer. And that turned out to be, lucky for us, 45 minutes away. We went up to Hopkins and met Wolfgang. Immediately it was very comfortable with him, very open, very honest, says it appears you may have some kind of a blockage in there, we don't know.

We could go in there and find nothing, and then you got half a pancreas for the rest of your life. But I have a hunch that something's not right. So we can let it go, or we can come back in six months, or we can go in there and find out. And I just looked at Rene. I said, what would you do? What do you think? He said, I don't think I'd let this thing sit around. I trusted him immensely and rightly so, it saved my life. Came out of 19 hour surgery. The worst thing we could have thought of had happened.

Pancreatic Cancer: Joseph 'Cook' Edens III First-Person Story

Yes, I did have pancreatic cancer. It was good to get back in my house. And once I was at home for a week or two, I was able to come downstairs and sit by the fire and have somewhat of a normal life again. This is a very volatile cancer. It can be anywhere in your system.

So we went on a nine month chemo program and now you don't really look like yourself. I do not like to sit around. I can't sit around. Moving around, being active, having too many things on my schedule, too many things on my plate, is the way I live. We tried to keep it as much as normal as possible, and I think that was as good a thing for me as it was for the kids. Part of that is what kept me, is part of my winning my battle.

Also it gives you that will to live and that want to get back to where you were as soon as possible. I told myself that was my goal. I'm either gonna die from this or I'm gonna get back on the horse and ride again. Hopkins can do a whole lot.

I think that's by far the best place that could treat it or cure it or at least give you a little bit, a lot more time. But most of all, you have to work with them. You have to work with the doctors. If you defeat yourself, there's not a lot they're gonna be able to do for you. You have to wanna live, not just wanna live but you have to wanna fight. As of last May, Dr. Wolfgang says you're cured. And yeah, it's a good feeling, it's a great feeling, you know? I found that the reason that I won and what I did was because I had such a strong family bond and support from my family and such a great medical team.

That coupled with the desire to push forward is what will win it for you.

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By: Johns Hopkins Medicine