I Don't Recommend This Diet: My Life with Pancreatic Cancer

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I Don't Recommend This Diet: My Life with Pancreatic Cancer At age 40 I was diagnosed with unresectable pancreatic cancer. This page will document the journey and hopefully help others in the future.

21/11/2019
21/11/2019

TODAY is . Wear purple 💜 Know the risks and symptoms⚕️Spread the Word 🗣️

http://pcan.at/rdd9xo

Can’t believe it’s round 11!! Let’s get this done!!!!!!
29/01/2019

Can’t believe it’s round 11!! Let’s get this done!!!!!!

ROUND 10 of Chemo today! It doesn’t get easier, but I’m in it to win it!!!!! Always positive ! Always forward 👉 to the g...
16/01/2019

ROUND 10 of Chemo today!

It doesn’t get easier, but I’m in it to win it!!!!! Always positive ! Always forward 👉 to the great things to come!!!!!!!

“... this one guy...”One of the things that was really hard when I was initially diagnosed was not seeing /hearing of Pa...
12/01/2019

“... this one guy...”

One of the things that was really hard when I was initially diagnosed was not seeing /hearing of Pancreas Cancer survivor stories. The five-year survival rates are not so great. The Doctors or nurses would say, “Well there was this one guy that I know had another cancer and it looked really bad and they survived”. My thoughts were, ok but it’s not pancreas cancer and it’s just this one guy. This one guy. How many others are in a tough situation and it doesn’t work out? How many aren’t this one guy? This one guy.

I chose not to focus on that and chose to take it one day at a time. And even if the odds are bad, why can’t I be in the survival %? Maybe I get to be “this one guy”.

Then the other day I found the website below. There are several pancreas cancer survivors and most had advanced cases. Pancreas Cancer. Advanced Cases. Survival. It’s not just “this one guy”. It’s many of ‘em! And one in Miami!

I’m aiming to one day be that story my Doctor tells to his Pancreas Cancer patients. I’m gonna be “this one guy”.

https://www.lustgarten.org/patient-journey/survivor-stories/

Survivor Stories Since our inception, we have been committed to changing patient outcomes with the singular goal of turning patients into survivors. We won’t stop until this page is filled with hundreds and then thousands of survivor stories. These survivors are just a few of the many that inspi....

At John Hopkins in Baltimore today for my restaging. Did the bloodwork and scan yesterday. Today in the afternoon I meet...
18/12/2018

At John Hopkins in Baltimore today for my restaging. Did the bloodwork and scan yesterday. Today in the afternoon I meet with the Doctors for the results. Patiently waiting, highly optimistic 😁!

Chemo treatment round eight.
11/12/2018

Chemo treatment round eight.

Round 7 of chemo today. So far so good!
27/11/2018

Round 7 of chemo today. So far so good!

Getting disconnected at thr hospital from my chemo pump. Saw this little gem!
15/11/2018

Getting disconnected at thr hospital from my chemo pump. Saw this little gem!

14/11/2018

WHY THE TITLE OF THIS BLOG IS "I DON'T RECOMMEND THIS DIET"

After coming down with pancreas cancer, I had many discussions with people about having this disease. In order to defuse any tension if the discussion got too heavy, I would start to talk about the positive sides of coming down with the illness. Believe it or not there are many. I plan to get to those in a subsequent post.

One of the positive aspects is the weight loss.

If you look at my first profile pic here you'll see that at the beginning of this year (2018) I weighed about 280 lbs (127 kg).

When the tumor started blocking the duct that puts the appropriate enzymes into my digestive system to help me digest fat, I slowly started not digesting fats. At one point before I was diagnosed, anytime I would eat any high fat food, I would have to run to the bathroom 30 min later. I could not digest it! One time I went to Taco Bell and bought six soft tacos. My digestive system would not take that fat and incorporate it into my body.

Other than the growing tumor, horrid gas and abdominal pains; it's pretty effective for weight loss.

So I'd talk about some of the positive things and I'd mention the weight loss. After my explanation I would say, "Yeah it's great for losing weight, but I wouldn't recommend this diet".

That comment was usually followed by a good laugh!

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IMPORTANT NOTE: All feedback, positive or constructive, on this and all post is super appreciated! The only way we get better is to learn from our mistakes :)! Examples include misspellings, grammar, something not clear, something you've seen contradicts what I say, etc... Please let me know.

MEANING BEHIND COVER PHOTO: “NOTHING HAS CHANGED”. Photo taken today, November 13, 2018, from my chemo suite at my hospi...
14/11/2018

MEANING BEHIND COVER PHOTO: “NOTHING HAS CHANGED”.

Photo taken today, November 13, 2018, from my chemo suite at my hospital.

I have two Nalgene bottles that I wrote “Cancer Free” on in permanent marker. I alternate drinking out of them every day. More on that in another post.

What I want to write about is the meaning behind the “Nothing has changed” quote.

I mean, I have cancer. How can nothing have changed?

It’s all point-of-view and what I have chosen to focus on.

I refuse to be a victim. I chose to focus on the positive and do the best I can considering the current situation.

I’ll start the story the week I receive my first dose of chemo, July 31, 2018. It was during my first call with a cancer support nurse provided to me by my work that I realized that nothing has changed.

As an aside, my company is pretty good when it comes to supporting employees and their family when struck by cancer. One benefits is called Cancer @ work in which an independent, experienced cancer nurse is made available to the employee and family if they have any questions about living with the disease. I have found this especially valuable when talking to her about standard of care. There were things that happened at my hospital that appeared to be a bit off to me. That didn’t mean they were wrong, but I just didn’t have a point of reference for what “good” cancer care looks like. I was able to talk to her about these things to either clear my doubts or help me understand the normal standard processes and procedures. In many cases, she has helped me have precise discussions with my Doctors throughout my treatment process that have helped me feel more relaxed as to what is going on.

Back to the main point of this post.

During my first discussion with her at one point I said, “I’m dying now”.

She stopped the conversation at that point and said, “But Ric we are all dying right now”. Very true.

Without saying much more it got me thinking. A LOT!

My dad mentioned to me a couple of times over these past few years that the inhabitants of this Earth are all transient. Again, very true.

If you think about it, as of 2018 all humans are born here on planet Earth. We are alive second by second. The next second we breathe and our heart beats, our life continues for that second no more no less until it repeats the next second. However, any individual for a multitude of reasons can have that process ceased. A person can die tomorrow, later on today or even in the next minute.

We have no idea when we are going to die.

What is known is that we will all die.

There is no way out.

These are the facts.

Full stop.

To that end, nothing has really changed in my day-to-day life. I will wake up every day like I have for the past 41 years. That’s what we all do if we’re lucky. My heart beats like always. I take breaths like always. Thankfully, I still have those functionalities intact.

As humans going back to our cave man days, our basic mission in life every day is to not die.

Maybe it’s being a bit overly dramatic but all things considered, it’s a basic truth that most of us don't think about.

Simple daily example. I get in a car to drive. To avoid accidents I try to drive safe. I respect the speed limit. I try not to text while diving. I do not drink and drive. I wear my seatbelt just in case. I react to traffic around me. The list goes on of risk mitigating activities that go on while we drive. I follow the same plan driving today as before the cancer started growing, the day before that, the day I was diagnosed and today.

Driving is one of a TON of examples of how my life has clearly not changed.

Ok sure, I have to receive chemo. I have to go visit the doctor much more often than I used to. I have to take more pills. If I run a fever, I have to go straight to seek medical help. I must watch my diet. I can’t just hop on a plane any weekend I want to watch a football game. But these things are not huge in the bigger picture.

Materially, when it comes to life itself. Nothing has changed.

This way of looking at life has helped me focus in living every day and not worry so much about the future. Where will I be in one year? Will I be alive in 1.5 years? I don’t know. None of us know that answer. So why should I focus on worrying about it when there is no way I will ever know the answer?

That being said, I have taken the responsibility of reducing the risk of pending death by ensuring I have a plan in place to get out of this (whatever chance that is) and am following that plan, but I don’t let the unknown get me down.

The day I was told I had cancer (July 23, 2018), everything turned upside-down; however, living through this with my dad, I knew that there were further details that needed to be known in order to gauge the severity. Tough, but ok I thought, I can do this.

The day I found out that the cancer was inoperable (July 30) it emotionally destroyed me. The Ricardo at the beginning of the year died that day, and I had to start from ground zero about what my future was to hold.

As of right now, hands-down zero competition, it is the single worst day of my life.

As of the date of this post, modern medicine has no proven way to cure pancreatic cancer other than surgically remove the tumor. If it’s inoperable, you cannot get cured. Moreover, the current research is not as advanced in other cancers. I was told with the chemo we can see in a few months what happens but probably it won’t become operable. They said it is not impossible, but it’s definitely not probable.

Yeah. Not good.

I’ve had bad days in my life before. Those days that shock you and completely change you. For me at least, these shocking events have always led to a better life. The wisdom gained from things not going as I had planned or expected always helped me understand how life works. They have always helped me better achieve my objectives afterwards.

However, I had never been hit with anything this life threatening.

Factually speaking, if I do nothing, I will die really soon.

Alternatively, if I do what the Doctors tell me the overall statistics say I have a 9% chance of making it past 5 years.

In my mind since it’s advanced and the doctors hadn’t give me a hard number, the risk is higher. Total life shattering. Especially if you’re not prepared to hear such things.

The way I used to look at life pre-cancer? I thought I’d probably live for 30 more years, 40 maybe if I get my act together health wise. Lose weight, exercise, improve work-life balance, reduce stress, etc...

The last thing that was on my mind was confronting such odds of death and so soon.

I was still thinking I’d still be around to grow old with my siblings. I’d have plenty of years to continuing growing as a professional to achieve greater things. Retire to some beach town and enjoy the fruits of my labor. Also I thought dumb things like for sure I’d get to see who would win the next 30 Super Bowls or the next seven World Cups. I’d get to watch all the new Star Wars movies until they run the franchise into the ground.

Never was there a threat that I’d die soon. That was for old people, and I wasn’t old yet.

I really took life for granted.

But I don’t dwell on that now.

Nothing, but nothing I think, do or say will change what happened in the past. Nothing.

What I won’t do is take life for granted going forward.

As I’ve learned in life, I think about what I can change and that is the present and the future. I don’t put your energy in dwelling on the past and woulda, coulda, shoulda or if. These are the lesson learned. Don’t do them again, that’s it. I’ve learned, now move on. I put the energy into setting up a bright future. I think positively about that future and fully believe that positive things will come. I think practically. This way the fear of the potential unknown is reduced significantly.

It’s about what you can do. It’s not about what could have been or how you could have changed it. That’s done. Learn and don’t do it again. Move on.

Very openly, I feel that God put me through all the hard times and experiences over these past 41 years so that I could be in the position to face this challenge.

And I am doing it. And with positive gusto!

That’s why I think, nothing has changed.

I still don’t know when I’m going to die.

I still wake up every morning; shower and brush my teeth; put on my clothes; take out my dog; eat breakfast, lunch and dinner; use the bathroom; pay my bills; interact with friends and family; tick off things on my todo list and at the end of the day I go to bed.

When the news of the diagnosis was first given to me I was talking to one of my cousins. That day he told me, God does not give us challenges we are not equipped to handle.

He is absolutely correct.

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IMPORTANT NOTE: All feedback, positive or constructive, on this and all post is super appreciated! The only way we get better is to learn from our mistakes :)! Examples include misspellings, grammar, something not clear, something you've seen contradicts what I say, etc... Please let me know.

FIRST POST: EXPLANATION OF FIRST PROFILE PICI'm currently receiving my sixth dose of Chemo and killing some of this tumo...
13/11/2018

FIRST POST: EXPLANATION OF FIRST PROFILE PIC

I'm currently receiving my sixth dose of Chemo and killing some of this tumor!

With my first post I'd like to explain the first profile pic I posted.

As referred to in the name of the page, I have lost a considerable amount of weight since I came down with this illness.

At the beginning of the year I weighed a whopping 280 lbs (127 kg).

YES! THATS PRETTY HUGE!!!!!!!! Probably the biggest I’ve been since college when I was large and not so in-charge. But I was VERY large!

Funny. Every January 1 that I've been overweight, my plan was always to lose weight starting on that date. This year from January to March, I fluctuated between 280 lbs and 270 lbs (122.5 kg). Yo-yo as per normal. Not healthy!

My first cancer symptom came during a non-work trip to Mexico City on Sunday, March 25, 2018. I had gas that would not stop as well as yellow, lose and very very very very very (I cannot emphasis VERY enough) stinky stool. I weighed myself upon my return to the States on Tuesday, March 27. I weighed in at 277 lbs (125.5 kg).

The four pictures in the profile pic show the evolution of my illness / treatment on my face. Most of all the second chin :P.

Description of picture by location on pic:

Please note that my day one (day I was diagnosed) was July 23, 2018.

* Upper-left corner

Picture taken on: March 1, 2018.
Weight: approx: 275 lbs (125 kg).
Other info: I took this picture at work. I never had a professional headshot made so I requested one when I went to my company's headquarters. At this point I hadn't had any symptoms. However, as this cancer works it is highly likely that it was already growing inside of me. Gulp!

* Upper-right corner

Picture taken on: July 26, 2018.
Weight: 243 lbs (110 kg).
Other info: Hours before I got my port installed. Five days before my first chemo treatment.

* Bottom-left corner

Picture taken on: Sept 9, 2018.
Weight: 217 lbs (98.5 kg).
Other info: Two days before my third chemo treatment.

* Bottom-right corner

Picture taken on: November 12, 2018.
Weight: 205 lbs (93 kg).
Other info: The day before my sixth chemo treatment.

In later post I'll talk more about what has impacted my rapid weight fluctuation and why.

When I talk to the Oncologist and other Health Care Professionals, they tell me not to gain or lose weight. Very weird for me as I'm usually trying to lose fat weight or trying to put muscle weight on. I've never done this holding pattern thing.

I'm planning on writing more in-depth about how I was able to stop the massive weight loss curve in light of a compromised digestive system.

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IMPORTANT NOTE: All feedback, positive or constructive, on this and all post is super appreciated! The only way we get better is to learn from our mistakes :)! Examples include misspellings, grammar, something not clear, something you've seen contradicts what I say, etc...

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