Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had an inspiring story about a female oncologist's fight against her father's pancreatic cancer. I haven't been able to find a link, so here goes:
Dr. Pamela Munster is an oncologist specializing in breast cancer. She is a breast cancer survivor herself, ironically. After getting through her own breast cancer, she found she carried the BRCA2 gene and it came from her father's side - which helped to explain her father's mother's and grandmother's deaths from cancer.
Knowing that the BRCA2 gene came from her father made her suspect he had pancreatic cancer after a chance comment of his. Tests confirmed it and his doctors in Switzerland (he is Swiss) wrote him off as too advanced to have surgery. Then she took over and got him on an aggressive regimen of chemotherapy to get his tumor to a point where surgery would be an option. To quote. "...the same defect which makes people with BRCA mutations more likely to have cancer is also the Achilles' heel of the tumors. Cancer cells often escape the effects of chemotherapy by efficiently repairing the damage it inflicts on them. Cancer cells with with mutated BRCA genes cannot repair DNA damage and thus are particularly vulnerable to chemotherapy agents that cause DNA damage."
Cut to the chase - it's five years since his diagnosis and things are going well for him. Her father is a tough old Swiss guy who runs up and down mountains everyday. That didn't prevent the cancer but it sure helped him get through the therapy.
Again quote: "We must hope that, in the years ahead. more of the public and the medical profession will become aware of the link between BRCA mutations and pancreatic and prostate cancer."
Her father was damn lucky that he had a daughter who is an oncologist up to date in the latest research. Most of us aren't that lucky. It's up to us to educate ourselves. I remember my old business law professor telling our class that he wasn't trying to make us lawyers; he was trying to make us intelligent consumers of legal advice. Same with us. Remember, to win the race you have to stay in the race. Don't quit and don't allow yourself to be written off. Stay strong, brothers!