I was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer in November 2014. This diagnosis changed my life since the 5-year survival rate has been stuck at 8% for the last 40 years. 75% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer die within the first year, so I decided to fight and do everything possible to get better.
Surgery was impossible due to the location of the tumours. Chemotherapy was my only option. Within a month, I began chemotherapy. I take Folfirinox, a combination of 4 drugs that take more than 2 days to administer. This is repeated every 2 weeks. Of course, before every chemotherapy treatment, I have my blood work done. A CBC, complete blood count, tells me how well my red and white blood cells, my hemoglobin, and my platelets have recovered from the side effects of chemotherapy. I remember how upset I felt the first time that my red blood cells hadn’t recovered. My husband and I had gone in to the cancer clinic thinking that I was going to have my treatment that day. Chemotherapy, even with all its side effects, was the one and only alternative that could help me. I felt like I had let myself and my family down because I couldn’t have my treatment. Then I found out that I would get a blood transfusion and that it would get me back on track. The oncology nurses helped me understand that it’s not unusual to need a blood transfusion and then they explained what would happen. I was able to have chemotherapy the next week and get back on track to beating pancreatic cancer.
I have had 2 blood transfusions and 46 cycles of chemotherapy so far. It is comforting to know that if needed, the blood will be there to help me continue my fight.
In the midst of this diagnosis, I have seen so many positives. In particular, my colleagues have organized the "Pints for Piché" group at the blood donor clinic. I am so proud of their idea and I tell everyone at the London Regional Cancer Program about it. Colleagues, friends, and acquaintances meet at the blood donor clinic for some social time and some treats! As many as 25 people donate blood and we are surrounded by many who can't give but who still come to support the donors. What a gift they are giving!