My Story is about Amanda Hite

 

The Discovery

During surgery at Duke.

 

This is My Story

I found out I had pancreatic cancer on November 14, 2005. I was a 38 year old kindergarten teacher, wife, and mother of two. My daughter was 5 and my son was 14. After having a Whipple procedure. Members of my family stayed with around the clock and kept telling me to keep breathing. I remember staring at the clock and telling myself to hold on for 5 more minutes. I did this over and over for days. I went through chemo and radiation. I kept telling myself to hang on for one more day. My husband, parents, and sisters all helped to take care of me. I believe the experience was just as difficult for them as it was for me. When all of the treatments were over, I had to get on with whatever was left of my life. It was important for me to focus my energy on my children. I tried to protect them from the severity of the situation.

I was definitely depressed and weak, but I wanted my children to have good memories of me. I pulled myself together as much as I could and I used my time to create happy memories for them.

Every year when I went back for check ups, everyone at the hospital seemed surprised that I was still alive.

After my whipple, I had episodes of pancreatitis for years that kept getting worse. About 4 years ago, another less invasive surgery was done that so far has stopped those episodes. It has been 17 years since I was diagnosed. I will probably never be completely free of fear that it will come back one day, but I have more and more days when I don’t think about it at all. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I don’t think so. Physically I will never be the way I was before. But I am a better person. A better teacher, a better wife, a better sister, and a better mother.

 

The Impact of Time

I started going to my general practitioner for stomach pain, a rash on my stomach, and the beginnings of jaundice. He kept giving me one incorrect diagnosis after another. All of the symptoms worsened. I went back three times insisting that there was a serious problem and I could feel myself getting weaker. I told him I needed to go to the hospital and he said that I did not need to be hospitalized. The next day I told my husband to take me to the emergency room. If I had waited any longer, I would have died.

I was a 38 year old female who didn’t smoke, so I didn’t fit the usual profile for someone with pancreatic cancer. Ultimately, you are your own best advocate. You know your body and if something is wrong. Time is so important. Stand up for yourself and insist on the best care you can possibly get for yourself.

 

My story is about my eldest son Mark

 

This event took place from 06/23/2020 to 03/12/2022

 

The Discovery

Mark worked for a company dismantling and recycling commercial batteries. As this was a toxic environment in which to work a comprehensive health check was carried out by the company annually. In June 2020 after a company health check Mark was referred to his doctor and subsequently to a cancer specialist where he was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and In November 2020, he underwent a Whipple Procedure.

 

This is My Story

Mark had an extremely outgoing and adventurous spirit. He was also very young at heart and loved visiting theme parks and trying out all the thrill rides. During his five years at College, Mark joined the Army cadets and also entered the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award program where he gained his bronze and silver awards. He subsequently joined the army leaving home and going to live in New South Wales some three and half hours flying time and 3500 kilometres away, making visits extremely difficult and expensive. After leaving the army Mark joined the battery recycling company. We always worried about this job as commercial batteries are composed of numerous dangerous materials and chemicals and which we often wondered were in part responsible for him developing Pancreatic Cancer.

Three years ago, in what would prove to be a cruel twist of fate, Mark donated his prized guitar to be used in a WA Heart Foundation fund-raising auction.

In his final week’s Mark put together a bucket list including a trip to Queensland’s Gold Coast, where he planned to visit Sea World, Dream World and Movie World. Alas this wasn’t to eventuate as the disease rapidly progressed rendering him incapable of any kind of travel.
As a lasting tribute to Mark’s memory, a music video has now been produced. Written by my friend, his song, ‘Impressions of You,’ is now on YouTube and other streaming platforms and has been accepted by the Pancare Foundation of Australia as their Anthem.  Rest in Peace Mark, your memory lives on.

 

 

The Impact of Time

  • From June 2020 to November is just a relatively short six months. Had his diagnosis been even six months earlier then Mark’s chances of survival may have been dramatically increased.
  • Our outlook on time has been greatly influenced by the sudden impact of Mark’s passing. At this time COVID had spread across Australia and our state of Western Australia was ‘locked-out’ of the rest of Australia resulting in closed borders and no permissions to travel between states. At this time, we hadn’t seen our son for two years.
  • As mentioned, there was no early detection.
  • In hindsight and with the threat of COVID looming my wife and I, 83 and 81 respectively, would have love ‘the gift of time’ for at least the opportunity of seeing and being with our son before he passed.

 

My Story is about me.

 

This event took place from 12/02/2020 to

 

The Discovery

In October 2020, I began to have discomfort on my right side, associated with digestive problems, sudden diarrhea, and linear mid-back night pains. But nothing that prevented me from going about my daily work and family life, the discomfort would go away if I did stretches or leaned on something warm. The tests were all fine. I got the suspicion that there was something abnormal from the doctor who did my ultrasound in late November. He advised me to urgently have a CT scan with contrast agent. The diagnosis came on December 2, 2020, “pancreatic adenocarninoma.”

When I got the diagnosis, I understood from the way the doctors talked about how important TIME was. “You have to run …One week makes a difference,” they said!
I started chemotherapy on December 21, 2020, and I am still undergoing treatment today. Early detection is so important because this cancer is silent fast and aggressive, so … you have to run!!!

 

The Impact of Time

The concept of time today for me is “The Time that Remains,” is a concept that each of us should have. My day must be good. It is not always easy because events sometimes are adverse, but I always like to try to find and see something positive in my daily … it is a matter of training!

Today the weather is rich …. Full of family, work, friends, physical activity and research projects.

With the Nadia Valsecchi Foundation, which is part of the coalition, I am organizing the 2nd Purple Walk in my country to raise awareness about pancreatic cancer, and I am concretizing a project to support and share about our daily lives among patients that I hope will bear fruit in the future. I live well in the present and think about the future by setting goals and thinking about new projects that can raise more awareness of the disease, can give resources to research and can make me and other patients feel good.
I live today and have many moments of serenity and happiness.

My Story is about My Dad, Maurizio

 

This event took place from 03/15/2022 to 06/19/2022

 

The Discovery

My father was 55 years old when he was diagnosed Diabets type 2 in September 2022. A diabetologist’s friend of mine was his doctor and prescribed an anti-diabetic oral drug and diet so he started to lose weight.

But he lost weight so fast and we were proud of him. At the second visit in March, something strange was in his blood value. I immediately understood there was something really bad and I asked to my friend to quickly visit him. Then after CA119 dosing all was clear to me. He was dying of a pancreatic cancer. We had the diagnosis confirmation and stadiation in April after an Echo and a biopsi.

I had prepared my dad for the diagnosis but we thought at least to have chance to start a chemio. In May I was pregnant of 7 month and my Dad had his death sentence: he could not start the chemio. Bilirubin was too high because of the liver metastasis. In One month he would be dead and it was. From 19 May to 19 of June, we had one month full of party, dinner, cinema and lunch with family and friend until a couple of days before his last breath he started to worsen.

My Dad was really brave and stayed with us until the end, asking for forgiveness for his mistake, telling us how much he loves us and he was not afraid to die. In a few month he was prepared to leave the body and the family and go to his direction.

 

This is My Story

My father was 55 years old when he was diagnosed Diabets type 2 in September 2022. A diabetologist’s friend of mine was his doctor and prescribed an anti-diabetic oral drug and diet so he started to lose weight.

But he lost weight so fast and we were proud of him. At the second visit in March, something strange was in his blood value. I immediately understood there was something really bad and I asked to my friend to quickly visit him. Then after CA119 dosing all was clear to me. He was dying of a pancreatic cancer. We had the diagnosis confirmation and stadiation in April after an Echo and a biopsi.

I had prepared my dad for the diagnosis but we thought at least to have chance to start a chemio. In May I was pregnant of 7 month and my Dad had his death sentence: he could not start the chemio. Bilirubin was too high because of the liver metastasis. In One month he would be dead and it was. From 19 May to 19 of June, we had one month full of party, dinner, cinema and lunch with family and friend until a couple of days before his last breath he started to worsen.

My Dad was really brave and stayed with us until the end, asking for forgiveness for his mistake, telling us how much he loves us and he was not afraid to die. In a few month he was prepared to leave the body and the family and go to his direction.

 

The Impact of Time

Time is quite strange.

Two months after his death he would be granfather.
But that time was not enough on time.

For only two months in 55 years he lost the joy to see his daughter being a mother.

It’s funny.. he would be died one year Earlier or after.. but he dies 2 months before my baby birth

What I have learned about time is that we cannot spend time in arguing or bad feelings. We don’t have enough time.

We spent the last month staying together hoping he will be here one more days.

 

My Story is about My dad, Fernando

 

The Discovery

My dad was first diagnosed as diabetic, which came as a shock to my family. A month later, he was having immense back pain and he was diagnosed with Cirrhosis. A month after that, they found the mass and he was diagnosed with stage 3, inoperable pancreatic cancer. Knowing what I know now, thanks to our resources, the signs were all there. He declined very quickly and passed away 10 months after his fight begin.

 

This is My Story

Growing up, I had two older brothers. It always made me feel a little bit left out. But my dad… he was my best friend. We did everything together. When he’d get home from work, he’d stand me on his feet and walk around the house and dance with me. He supported every endeavor and was right by my side for everything. My dad is the reason that I am everything that I am. I owe many of my accomplishments to him and I will forever live a life that remembers him and makes him proud.

 

The Impact of Time

Since my dad passed, I am more accepting of the timing of my life and every day is an opportunity to uphold what my dad has taught me about being kind, hardworking, and patient. When my dad became sick, his overall health declined very quickly and we never got the chance to go on another adventure. I have promised him and myself to make time for the things I enjoy and the goals that I have. He will always be with me, through every new adventure and every simple day. I love you, dad.

 

My Story is about Dionysios P. Simopoulos (my dad)

 

This event took place from 10/25/2022 to 08/07/2022

 

The Discovery

My dad began to lose considerable weight and then was diagnosed with diabetes. This led to further blood exams and borderline resectable pancreatic cancer was diagnosed.

 

This is My Story

My dad was a prominent scientist, hailed by many as the the most popular and most respected popularizer of astronomy in Greece. But beyond this, my dad was a gregarious, generous and wonderful soul. His laughter and presence would fill a room. He had the inherent ability to make everyone he met feel special. He would bring out the best in others because ultimately that’s what he saw.

When my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 4 years ago on October 25th, 2018, he was told that he would have about 3 to 6 months to live. I still remember the day he told us the news: “The news isn’t good. I have pancreatic cancer and I don’t have much longer to live. But it’s ok, there is good news too. I at least have 6 months of life.” And just like with everything else life had to serve him to that point, so too with this he viewed it as a glass that was not just half-full but overflowing and he decided he was going to make every one of those “6 months” he had left, count. And we as his family had no choice but to follow suit!

So that’s what we did: We lived life … to the fullest. We made every moment count. Even the most mundane moments became major events: like ordering take-out or watching his favorite cooking show. Those were “big” moments because we were doing them together. My brothers and I would share our boring work stories with him almost daily and he would listen to them like he was listening to earth shattering news.

During the past four years – yes, those 6 months turned into close to 4 wonderful years – my dad enjoyed friends, family and loved ones, wrote a few books, ate his favorite seafood, took a huge liking to sushi and watched cooking shows on TV. He would put on music and sing while he would write his books – some of them scientific in nature, others going back in time through his life – but regardless the topic, he would sing. He would note the color of green on the trees and point it out to us. He would walk out to his jasmine bush and would shout to us to come to smell the flowers when they were in bloom. He would make it very apparent when he was biting into a sweet piece of watermelon, telling us it’s the best watermelon he had ever tasted. But most importantly my dad would laugh. He would laugh that infectious laughter that made everyone around him laugh too.

My dad filled us with love. He left us full. And although his absence is huge the love he left us with lives on and because of that love we are fine. Because we made those little moments in time count.

I used to say that my dad carried me literally and metaphorically all my life. And he continues to carry us all with the love and the special memories he left us with. I read somewhere that time does not heal, love does. And I agree. Love not only heals, love lives on.

 

The Impact of Time

Every minute counted. Every moment counted. We made sure of it.

 

My Story is about William (Charlie) Ridgeway

 

This event took place from 06/26/2022 to

 

The Discovery

Very recently this family’s life has been turned upside down. While on summer vacation, I started to have stomach pain and nausea. I tried over the counter meds, and it did not seem to help. Eventually on June 26, 2022, after returning home, my wife convinced me to go to the ER thinking it was my appendix or gallbladder. Little did I know it was much worse. That night they ran a CT scan and noticed a mass on my pancreas. MRIs, bloodwork, and scopes the next two weeks led to the most devastating news one could ever imagine. On July 13, 2022, I was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer! I went from thinking I needed my gallbladder out to you are most likely going to die within the next 3 years. As you know pancreatic cancer is a very dangerous cancer and has a very low survival rate. I just completed my first 6 rounds of chemotherapy and received even more devastating news. The newest CT shows that my cancer is spreading, and the first chemotherapy is not working like they hoped. I start 10/12/2022 on another round of 6 with a different type of chemotherapy. I have lost over 60 pounds since this past June. If this next chemo does not work, my oncologist says that we are limited on treatments and time wise we are looking at less than a year.

 

This is My Story

Hi, my name is Charlie (William Ridgeway). I am a paraprofessional/bus driver in Aiken County, South Carolina. I work for LBC (Langley, Bath, Clearwater) middle school where I run the ISS (In school suspension) room and drive school bus for them and the High school my wife works at. I have been married to my wife, Heather, who is a SPED (Special Education) teacher at Midland Valley High School, for 23 years and we have a 23-year-old son, Joeseph Ridgeway, who is a special needs paraprofessional at the same middle school as me and he coaches football there also.
As you can see, myself and my family are committed to the special needs students and seeing them grow. We all do our best to show unconditional love to the students and support the parents and staff of the Valley. I try my best to be a mentor, a giant teddy bear with a firm hand and a loving heart. I love my students, my son has the patients of Midas when it comes to moderate to sever special needs, and if you could only see my wife teach, Heather has a way with her autistic and other special needs students that can hardly read to read, write, and become productive members of society when others have given up on them.

I wanted to share a little background, so you know who we are. God called us into service. Most of my life I have worked 3 jobs from truck driving, bus driving, to inbound telemarketing. I did that so my wife could get her teaching degree, master’s degree, and be a stay-at-home mom when Joe was younger. For a little while we even fostered children. No matter if we were team parents on the football field or the support staff that could get the behavioral child down from the fence they were climbing, we have always been a family of 3 that serve the special needs students around us. Then just as we were seeing a future of travel and stablity moving into midlife, out of the blue, like a theif in a night my world has dramaticly changed. My friends have set up a support page on Facebook “Ridgeway Warriors” This is a great platform to keep updates and gain support. Thanks to the support of my family, friends, and “The Valley” in Aiken SC, I will continue to fight, til I can’t.

 

The Impact of Time

My family and my students in the Valley are my whole world and although I am a man of faith and know there is a paradise waiting for me, I am in no rush to go. I want to fight and be here making memories as long as I can. My health is declining. I work as much as my body lets me so that I can show my students what never giving up is all about! I pray that God creates a miracle so I can stay for years, but I also know the statistics. I want to share memories and leave a legacy of unconditional love to the students I have touched. Last, when the end gets rough and I don’t have the fight in me anymore, I want to close my eyes and remember those moments as I leave this Earth and join my heavenly Father.

 

My Story is about my mother, Joy Greisman Bonn

 

This event took place from 12/02/2020 to 05/06/2021

 

The Discovery

It was discovered because my mom went to the doctor for a check-up. She had some stomach issues but not life-threatening ones and felt the pain differed from other times. We thought for sure her diagnosis would be Crohn’s or Colitis or Ulcer because she never expressed just how painful it was or that it was a different type of pain that came along with a lack of appetite. This made her doctors immediately do bloodwork and scans due to her ailments.

 

This is My Story

My mother retired at 72 as an interior decorator and designer. She and my father decided to retire in October of 2021 and move full-time to south Florida. As soon as they got to Florida my mom started complaining that she wasn’t feeling well. She was getting sick from everything she was eating and spent many sleepless nights feeling awful from dinner. My mom always had stomach issues but they were not unusual to what those of Eastern European descent seem to have in common. My mom was the hardest-working person I have ever known. She never complained and even if she was feeling horrible, she was always moving along. After a few weeks of not feeling well and she felt the pains she was having were unlike her stomach pains of the past, she went to the doctor. He immediately did blood work and sent her for tests. I will never forget where I was and what I was doing and what my mom was wearing when the Facetime call came in on December 2nd. My mom and dad called to tell me of the diagnosis. I immediately said, “oh no that’s what Alex Trebeck had”. They instantly downplayed it and explained what would be the next step. My mom was very calm and kept saying they gave her the wrong test results because she was the healthiest sick person. My parents returned from Florida and my mom was treated at SK Memorial Hospital. She underwent aggressive treatment. The treatment didn’t go well and she had four strokes. This all took place in a matter of five months. Any chance I could be with her or my brother, Craig, or sister-in-law, Nicole, and my mom’s two sisters, we were with her. My dad never left her side except to grab some ice cream he hoped would make her smile and possibly try to eat. My mom decided after the round of chemo that she wanted to go the palliative care route. This was a very hard one to digest for all of us but we wanted her to do what would make her most comfortable. As things rapidly changed and the disease became more prominent, my mother would talk to each of us. She gave each of her five grandchildren, Jacob, Jordan, Peri, Harley, and Dani, a message of how much they meant to her. They were her life. No one brought her happiness like the five of them. My mom’s last message to me as she held my face from the hospital bed at home surrounded by HOSPICE workers is one I will never forget….I love you more than anything. Those were her last words to me just a few days before she passed. On May 6, 2021, my mom passed. There was no one like her. While she was sick, she kept saying she had a wonderful life and how lucky she was with her family and friends. She was there for everyone always and has very big shoes to fill. I just hope she knows, WE WERE THE LUCKY ONES.

 

The Impact of Time

My outlook on time changed and the value of time because it is so hard to detect. It has not been like other cancers where early detection is widespread and available. The value of time became even more meaningful because my mother’s diagnosis showed that it was metastatic. She had stage 4 and time was running out because of this fast-growing, moving disease. There is never enough time with those you love especially when you get his with a diagnosis out of the left field. You expect the loved one to be a part of all that is ahead but Pancreatic cancer doesn’t give its people it chooses a fighting chance if you had the diagnosis my mother had. Although my mother had five months with us after diagnosis, each and every moment was important. The last few months, weeks, and days, were filled with loads of emotions and more crying and fear than ever before but the time was precious and we got to share how much we loved her and she shared how she loved us. I will never forget the precise moment of my mother’s passing as I held her left hand and only wanted more time.

 

My Story is about My dad

 

This event took place from 04/21/2012 to 07/12/2013

 

The Discovery

My dad was bent over in pain on his birthday while fishing, so we had to stop the tournament and go home. On May 3, he went to the doctor and they said 80% chance pancreatic cancer, so then they were gonna do an endoscopy but my dad had a heart attack on the table. July 14 Dr Adams (aka Dr Death) walked in on the phone and said “I’ll be home in five minutes. Bye.” Then turned to my parents, “you have pancreatic cancer. You have 1 year to live.” Countless second opinions, a trip to the Mayo Clinic, 3 bouts of pancreatitis, success at American Cancer Center, but change in treatment due to insurance “networks” led to treatment at INOVA, then finally John’s Hopkins. My dad passed a year later to the day of Dr. Death’s diagnosis.

This is My Story

The last words my dad ever (coherently) said to me were, “I can’t go. I’m not done teaching you yet.” We cried together – only the second time in my whole 17 years of life that my dad had cried in front of me. I will never forget those words. I pray that anyone faced with this situation would ask any of those burning questions or even simple questions. You may not get that chance ever again. But I also pray for the Lord to use our stories and our hurt to help others, that we won’t have to face the horrors in vain.

The Impact of Time

It was so fast. Yet at the time, so painfully slow to watch my dad emaciate and agonize in pain (silently). Early detection was not a thing. By the time my dad felt the pain (April) to when he finally was able to do the endoscopy (July) because of an MI (May) he was at stage 4. Time was not on our side. And after Dr Death, the others in his same practice disagreed with him, saying it was only pancreatitis. It wasn’t until the Jacksonville Mayo Clinic (December) said he “lit up like a Christmas tree” that we had the official confirmed diagnosis. And treatments happened so fast, but they were so painful to watch. I would give anything to have 5 more minutes with my dad to just ask those things I now realize I will never know.

 

My Story is about my Grandma Raya.

On August 17th 2022, my Grandma Raya left this universe. My Grandma Raya beat the odds and lived 2 1/4 years with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. The doctors enjoyed having conversations with her as she was a doctor herself. Her passion was saving lives. Raya was the strongest warrior, bravest and kindest person I know. The doctors were shocked how someone could survive such pain and she did until the very end.

Over the course of her treatment she went through chemo, radiation, and immunotherapy, which caused her to develop guillain-barré syndrome where the immune system attacks the nerves. She wasn’t able to eat and constantly threw up and had a tube surgically placed in and still continued throwing up but kept on fighting.

I would like to honor her life as the brave hero she is.