Joey’s Pancreatic Cancer Fundraiser

In July of 2015, I was 25 years old and diagnosed with a very rare Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer (Acinar Cell Carcinoma). For the next year and a half I underwent four aggressive treatment regimens, supplemented with some adjunctive therapy (diet, excercise, etc.).  A underwent a distal pancreatectomy (removing half of my pancreas) and splenectomy, one full chemotherapy plan, and two targeted radiation plans.

All this treatment was aimed at giving me a few more months, if not years. My original prognosis being 2 years.

I have been extremely lucky to achieve full remission very early into treatment, a relatively unheard of result for any Stage IV cancer, let alone pancreatic. With such a high rate of return, my wife and I have been living our lives in 3 month increments and struggling with making what would be normal life advances like purchasing a home or starting a family.

Fast forward to today, just over three years later, we agreed the best move for us was to purchase a boat to live on to continue living near our friends, family, and hospitals while avoiding the ever-rising rent.  Right around the same time, results confirmed a recurrence of cancer on my liver. After monitoring the recurrence for a period of months, my medical team and I decided to go ahead with removal and I’m currently recovering from a successful laparoscopy.

All of that is to say that I could really use some help with the next steps of my journey. Uncertainty has been my only consistent experience with cancer. 

I’m uncertain as to whether this will be the end of treatment. Depending on tumor analysis, we could do another round of chemotherapy which would take months or we could be told to just continue monitoring the areas for another recurrence.

While treatment may be less aggressive, I’m starting from a deficit strength-wise and it could be months, even years before I’m ready & capable of full-time work again. 

I’m uncertain as to wether this will be the last recurrence. The probability for a recurrence with stage 4 pancreatic cancer is extremely high. I will be dealing with this illness for the rest of my life. I have done and will continue to do what I can to support myself but battling cancer leaves me with little-to-no energy for most other matters in life. 

I am certain, however, that I’ll make it through today, and the next, and the next, for as long as I’m able, with the incredible support of those around me. I can never be grateful enough to the friends and family who have already supported me in so many ways, and those who continue to do so now and in the future. I’m not a big fan of asking for support but I am constantly humbled by the generosity of those around me. 

As far as what we need help with, below are a few items we're currently tackling and expect to tackle in the near future.

- Current Medical Expenses (Liver surgery, several day hospital stays, ER visits for high fevers, follow-up appointments.)

-Future Medical Expenses (oncologist appointments, lab works, scans, potential chemotherapy treatment, potential radiation treatment)

-Alternative medical treatments ( Feel free to ask us directly about this.)

-Living Expenses (Sammy and I did our best to cut back our living expenses by purchasing a boat to live on. This was helpful in avoiding future rent hikes. It also makes our utilities practically nonexistent. That said, we are in a temporary slip that is twice as expensive as we planned until we can secure a slip at the Shilshole marina, which will make our living expenses significantly less than they currently are.)

-Occasional day-care for Le Geaux (our puppy). The last time I went through treatment, Sammy was working full-time, while shuffling me back and forth from the oncologist. This put us away from home for 8-10 hours some days. Being able to drop Le Geaux off at day care to make sure that he could be walked and got out some energy was incredibly helpful for everyone. 

Asking for help is my least favorite thing to do but I'm so grateful for your consideration and your help thus far. 


Joey Massa

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Joey Massa 
Seattle, WA
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