Whole Life Magazine

October/November 2012

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Page 27 of 43

Living with Cancer o 28 wholelifetimesmagazine.com Certain diseases make us think death is imminent, but sometimes they lead to a healthier life By Tracy Krulik shouldn't I already be dead?" It turns out that there are actually two varieties of pancreatic cancer: Adenocarcinoma, my first thought was: "I'm going to die!" After a quick analysis of the situation, my next thought was: "If I've had pancreatic cancer for nearly a decade, more commonly referred to as "pancreatic cancer," is very aggressive and occurs in nine or ten people out of 100,000 each year. the other type, called "islet cell" or "neuroendo- crine" cancer, only occurs in five out of a million people and can be very slow growing. the latter is what I have. It's also what steve Jobs had. If we had removed the tumor from my pancreas before it metastasized, I would have n August 31, 2007 I woke up In the recovery room In pAIn. I had undergone an endoscopic ultrasound at georgetown university hospital in washington, D.c. to learn more about the so-called mass that showed up on a ct scan of my pancreas. After nine years of debilitating illness, a doctor finally found the root cause. A resident came to my gurney to check on me and reported there was indeed a mass. the doctor had biopsied it, he said, which would explain why I was having discomfort. Feeling rightfully concerned, I asked the resident what he thought the mass was. his response? "most likely cancer." been cured. But by the time we caught it, the cancer had spread to my liver and chest, and no known medical treatments could put me into remission. I would spend the rest of my life with cancer. what happened next was a five-year journey that helped me learn that just as people and past president of the American cancer society california Division, says there are a number of these slow-growing tumors. cancers that "smolder along," as he puts it, include prostate, lymphoma, myeloma, and even some forms of lung and breast cancer. Interestingly, there's quite a bit of controversy over how to define indolent tumors. live long lives with diabetes or even AIDs, someone like me—with tumors hitchhiking on a few vital organs—can live with cancer as a chronic disease. Dr. cary presant, professor of clinical medicine at the university of southern california earlier this year an nIh panel recommended that we not refer to slow growing prostate cancers as "cancer." they were concerned that patients would worry too much from the cancer label and jump into unnecessary treatments. I understand the panelists' concerns. cancer might possibly be the nastiest word in the english language. even though I am in incredible health (despite the lingering tumors), people still turn white and back away from me when they learn that I have cancer. one woman actu- ally argued with me that I must be mistaken—I couldn't possibly have cancer given that I can ride my bike 100 miles or more a week with ease, and lift weights to cross train. she's right. I don't have the old-school definition of cancer, where we find a mass, go nuclear on it with chemotherapy or radiation, put the cancer into remission and then test periodically to make sure it hasn't returned. But I do have cancer. Cycling is part of author Tracy Krulik's arsenal. Her husband Tom Dillick- rath, bringing up the rear here, often joins her. Photo: Courtesy Tracy Krulik

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