Pancreatic cancer my journey through whipple
by Mrs L Mattin Kidd
(Norwich, Norfolk UK )
My husband had the Whipples procedure July 13th 2015 at Addenbrookes, Cambridge, UK. He was lucky enough to be one of a very small number of people eligible for the whipple op.
His journey started October, 2014 when he was referred to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for tests due to pains in his back and shoulder. After 1 ct scan, 1 Mir and 3 sessions of a small camera down his throat to check for gall stones, all came back totally clear of cancer but showed signs of acute pancreatitis.
The Drs said my husbands pancreas looked like that of an alcoholic. Truth is my husband has been a train driver for over 30 years and drinking is a total no no for him. This was puzzling for the Drs. A few days later the hospital called him back for one more look at his gall bladder, bile duct and pancreas and found a 'dodgy ' looking part of his pancreas that he promptly did a biopsy on and the results came back as a very small cancerous tumour less than 2cm. Within a week he was sent to Addenbrookes and 5 days later had the whipple op to remove the head of his pancreas and re plumb his stomach. The operation took 10 hours and I received a call from the surgeon who is a transplant surgeon that all had gone as expected...such a relief.
My husband was placed on the intensive care ward for 3 days. He had drains in his stomach, fluids and pain relief in drips in his hand but he looked remarkably well considering what he had been through. He was then moved to a ward. His pain was monitored well. Unfortunately he had to get moved to a solitary ward as he had a really upset stomach and the hospital didn't know if it was a bug or the after effects of the op. My husband has never been a very big eater and lost lots of weight as any food or drink he had made him sick. His wound was healing fantastically with no problems at all.
After 9 days he came home. It was a difficult time trying to get my husband to eat and go for exercise. In the end the best way was to graze during the day eating anything he fancied making sure he took his enzyme medicine before, during and after eating food.
1 month after the op we went back for a check up and referred him to an oncologist for further treatment to make sure the cancer stayed away as at present he was cancer free. He has now started chemotherapy ( belt and braces). He is having 18 doses 3 weeks on one week off and then repeat for 6 months .... we are back to square one with eating. He has lost his appetite but this is short term and hopefully we will carry on with our lives as normal.
To have the whipple op sounds harrowing but the human body is amazing and my husbands recovery has been amazing. Some days are better than others. Some days are pain free some are not, some days are exhausting some are not, so be prepared!!
Our best friend was diagnosed at exactly the same time as my husband but his cancer had become inoperable and unfortunately died 2 days after my husband came out of hospital.
Life for us now is living with the changes the whipple operation has given us to deal with, no two days are the same. Good luck
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