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Paul's pancreatic cancer treatment

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Let me start at the end, then go back and explain. Two days ago I received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. This is a relatively rare and very virulent cancer, and generally the survival rate is very low. Less than 1% of people diagnosed survive for 5 years. I am lucky, however, because the doctors feel mine was caught early before it had a chance to spread outside of the pancreas, which gives me much better odds than most people.

Now, to backtrack a bit. Three months ago I started having indigestion. Most people would just pop an antacid and forget about it. But I had suffered through pancreatitis, a severe inflammation of the pancreas, when I was only 20, and this indigestion reminded me of that feeling. So I called my doctor (thank you Affordable Care Act) explained the situation and my history, and got an immediate appointment. My doctor referred me the same day to a wonderful gastroenterologist who began a series of tests. I have been poked, prodded, bled, had tubes snaked through my esophagus, been filled with contrast, and scanned in multiple ways. During all this I was able to eat less and less, had more and more discomfort, and began to turn yellow. As a result they scheduled an ERCP, a procedure to check the pancreas endoscopically, take biopsies, and place a stent in the bile duct to relieve the built up pressure and stop the jaundice. The hope was that this was just a severe attack of pancreatitis and the stent would reverse the situation.

After the ERCP, however, my blood pressure dropped and the sheer amount of backed up bile required me to be admitted to the hospital with a nasogastric tube to drain the excess without straining my digestive system. Just when I thought it could get no worse, the biopsy results came back. I have pancreatic cancer. But, all signs point to it being isolated in the pancreas, which means removal and a short course of chemotherapy after give me a much better chance of recovery than most have by the time they are diagnosed. But all this comes at a cost. The surgery to remove the mass is major, I will be in the hospital for 2 weeks, then have a 3 - 6 month recovery at home, followed by 18 weeks of chemotherapy before my life can return to normal.  And that is the best case scenario...which is the one we are aiming for, of course! And, of course, time is critical. My surgery is scheduled for two days from now on February 8. This means I have no real time to prepare.

Like many of you, I have always been a freelancer. I love the freedom and the variety of work. But the downside of freelancing is you never know when the next job will come. We have no financial cushion to carry us through a year or more of treatment and recovery. Which is where you come in. I am trying to raise funds to cover expenses during this time. Like most people, I have a family to support, a mortgage, a car payment, utility bills, and now, on top of all that, additional expenses for medical treatments. Without your help, I am unsure of whether we will survive this, even if the surgery is successful.

And if you cannot help, there is one other thing I want you to do. If you have indigestion that lasts more than a week, go see a doctor. Don't just ignore it or blow it off as insignificant. With early detection you can be one of the 1%, not one of the 99%.


  • Anonymous
    • $200 
    • 6 yrs


Paul Fronc
Baltimore, MD

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