My Story is about Amanda Hite
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.