It all began during the end of November my dad was suffering with horrible acid reflux and abdominal cramps after he would eat. The cramps had become so strong that he had to take a day off work because he could not get out of bed. This was all unexpected as my dad is a healthy man.
Everything escalated quickly the first week of December. We were attending my last Father Daughter Dance at school, and after having a good time and taking multiple pictures I noticed something was off on him: his eyes were prominently yellow. Before we knew it, we were in St. Thomas Hospital Emergency Murfreesboro .
They found a 4cm tumor in a duct near his pancreas. After many endoscopies, a few stents inserted, and inconclusive biopsies, the doctors decided to do the Whipple procedure (pancreatic duodenectomy) in May. Due to the complications that could occur in just removing the tumor (rupturing the tumor and have cancerous cells spread throughout his body), they believed it was best to remove part of his pancreas, first part of the small intestine (duodenum), gallbladder, and bile duct.
My dad was later transferred to Midtown St. Thomas Hospital Nashville for his major surgery. The private surgeon said that we caught the tumor in time because it did infect 10 of 31 lymph nodes, but it did not spread to any other vital organs. Thankfully, they did remove all the cancer with Whipple procedure. Unfortunately, he will need 4-5 months of chemotherapy at Tennessee Oncology Murfreesboro (3 injections: targeting pancreatic, liver, and stomach cancer).
Due to the tumor infecting some of his lymph nodes, there is a risk that it is in his lymphatic system (meaning he could develop many other cancers in his body in the future). We are just waiting for the testing results from the lab to see if the cancerous cells they extracted from him do not mutate when presented with other cells, if mutation does occur... he has a longer road ahead of him.
My dad's case is very special. The doctors remind us of that everyday. They just recently diagnosed his tumor as ”vater ampullary carcinoma", yet cases like him are rare. He technically does not have pancreatic cancer, neither does he technically have liver cancer. His tumor was perfectly located in the middle of intersecting ducts that lead to the the pancreas, liver, and stomach which is so unique and rare.
It is all unknown territory, which I am thankful for but fearful of all at the same time. It is a 50-50 chance probability in everything for him, but he is strong and defying the odds and conquering every challenge thrown his way. I always knew my dad was special, and I know he will get through this.
Again, thoughts and prayers. My dad is the main source of income in our household and he does not have health insurance, therefore all medical procedures are being paid out of pocket by my family and I.
I never imagined in a thousand years that this would happen to my dad and find myself creating a GoFundMe for him.... I never knew saving my dad's life came with a high material price. God has a plan and purpose for my dad, therefore my family and I will do anything to get him back to health. I did not know what limit to put on the GoFundMe, but it is a great start. No amount is too small.
We hope he is back on his feet again soon, but please keep Hugo in your thoughts as he starts chemotherapy next week and we do not know how his body will react.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and thank you for everyone who has reached out and has helped in the past. We greatly appreciate all the kindness and unconditional love and support shown to us by many. Much love to everyone! Please stay safe during this pandemic we are in as well.
Keep on praying!! Because it is most definitely working :)
Aileen Zavala <3
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