|"Pancreatic cancer" is cancer of the pancreas.
Carrie's diagnosis was "pancreatic tumor with metastasis in a lymph node."
The pancreas is a gland located deep in the abdomen between the stomach and the
spine (backbone). The liver, intestine, and other organs surround the pancreas.
The pancreas is about 6 inches long and is shaped like a flat pear. The widest part of
the pancreas is the head, the middle section is the body, and the thinnest part is the tail.
Cancer is a group of many related diseases. All cancers begin in cells, the body's basic
unit of life. Cells make up tissues, and tissues make up the organs of the body.
Normally, cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells
grow old and die, new cells take their place.
Sometimes this orderly process breaks down. New cells form when the body does not
need them, or old cells do not die when they should. These extra cells can form a mass
of tissue called a growth or tumor.
Tumors can be benign or malignant. Malignant tumors are cancer. They are generally
more serious and may be life threatening. Cancer cells can invade and damage nearby
tissues and organs. Also, cancer cells can break away from a malignant tumor and
enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system. That is how cancer cells spread from the
original cancer (primary tumor) to form new tumors in other organs. The spread of
cancer is called metastasis.
Most pancreatic cancers begin in the ducts that carry pancreatic juices. Cancer of the
pancreas may be called pancreatic cancer or carcinoma of the pancreas.
When cancer of the pancreas spreads (metastasizes) outside the pancreas, cancer
cells are often found in nearby lymph nodes. If the cancer has reached these nodes, it
means that cancer cells may have spread to other lymph nodes or other tissues, such
as the liver or lungs. Sometimes cancer of the pancreas spreads to the peritoneum, the
tissue that lines the abdomen.
When cancer spreads from its original place to another part of the body, the new tumor
has the same kind of abnormal cells and the same name as the primary tumor. For
example, if cancer of the pancreas spreads to the liver, the cancer cells in the liver are
pancreatic cancer cells. The disease is metastatic pancreatic cancer, not liver cancer. It
is treated as pancreatic cancer, not liver cancer.
|The following information is from the National Cancer Institute.
Carrie's Diagnosis & Thoughts
May 17-19, 2005
During the first few days of my diagnosis, so similar to many of you going through crisis,
I felt an on slot of emotions most of which could come under the good 'ole category of
terrifying fear. I mean what else does someone feel when after a CT scan when the
technician says the doctor will be calling you as soon as possible? The doctor did
exactly that and "invited" us to come to the office to talk with him. We all know what that
means. We arrived at the office and listened with those ringing ears one gets when the
news is difficult. That in fact I had a very large tumor in my pancreas and that he would
like to send me to Kansas City to see a surgeon there to remove it.
We liked that idea of removal, so we pursued that fast. We received a call that afternoon
from Dr. Delcore in Kansas City and drove up the next afternoon with our x-rays to see
him. Gary and I sat in his office (for an eternity) as he reviewed the scan and watched
him as he walked into the room knowing the look on his face was less than hopeful.
Don't you love those words, "Has anyone prepared you for how serious this tumor is?"
Once again the ringing ears and need to disassociate but I looked into his face and
worked hard to hear every word he had to say, meanwhile melting into my husband's
arms. My tumor was large and wrapped around a major blood vessel. Can't operate on
that kind or I would bleed to death. We talked for at least an hour. I needed a stint to
relief the pressure on my bile duct so he set that right up with a physician the next
afternoon. I needed official biopsies of the type of cancer, that would be done at the
I also saw the head of oncology that afternoon. Everyone is so thorough at KU Med!
Sometimes you need the illusion that if they miss it then it isn't there. They found a
lymph node in my neck nobody else had and ordered a chest CT to be done the next
week and a biopsy of the node.
May 21, 2005
We were surrounded by dear Church friends that anointed us with oil and prayed for us
May 24, 2005
Gary and I came back up to Kansas City to consult with this oncologist. My lungs were
clear but that node had adenocarcinoma, the same cancer as in pancreas. At this time
we talked about going to MD Anderson.
We packed up and headed back to Siloam Springs and then packed to go to California
to our son Nathan's college graduation from Biola. A breath of fresh air in our life. What
a gift to be in California with our children, their friends, and new daughter-in-law-to-be.
During this time God was working miracles to get us to MD Anderson through dear
people we know and our appointment was set for Tuesday May 31st with the head of
We spent that Tuesday afternoon with a dear, knowledgeable, positive, and very hopeful
physician, Dr. Abruzzese. I am not on a trial. We didn't talk staging, or prognosis (yes, I
am beyond one and two and yes, I have metastasis... but what is important is that there
is hope for a battle). I was set to begin 2 forms of chemotherapy beginning that week at
MD and then will be able to follow-up here in Northwest Arkansas for 6 months. I will go
back down to MD for CT scans and re-evaluation every 2 months. My physician shared
hope with me that this chemo has the potential to "kill" the cancer and shrink the tumor.
I will treasure those words of battle in my heart! I will go to chemo each time with the
thought that the only toxic shock that is going on in my body is that creepy tumor is
getting a good dose of chemo off that blood vessel it seems to enjoy being wrapped
Will you join me in that prayer process?