Medical Edge: Pancreatic Cancer

Created: 11/14/2013 5:51 PM
By: Kenny King

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- When you watch Diana Sokol Roth in action, it's hard to imagine the 45-yearold was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer two years ago.

It was devastating in that…When you meet with the doctors and they give you the statistics that most people don't live two years and at most maybe you live five years.

For the about a 72 hours it was just numbing. But when the shock wore off, Diana and her husband Scott didn't let those numbers get in the way of her fight. She wanted to be one of the under 10 percent who survives long term.

My husband and I were like, ok, we will attack it head on. We're very proactive about everything. I'm healthy. Its early. Let's just move on.

But getting to where she is now wasn't easy.

She ended up having a Whipple operation, as it's more commonly called, to remove the pancreas cancer and to remove a portion of vein that was attached to the cancer as well.

Dr. Kaye Reid Lombardo and her team performed Diana's surgery. It's a difficult operation because the pancreas is deep in the abdomen and hard to access.

First, Dr. Reid Lombardo removed much of the pancreas, a part of the intestine called the duodenum, the gall bladder, common bile duct, and a section of portal vein. Then she reconstructed the area so Diana could digest food normally.

This was followed by chemotherapy and radiation. Diana's cancer was found fairly early, which increases her chance of survival.

The problem with pancreatic cancer is it's diagnosed late, so much so when the patient presents with symptoms like jaundice or severe abdominal pain, the -- it's already late.

Dr. Santhi Swaroop Vege is Diana's pancreatologist. He says there's lots of research going on now to figure out how to screen patients for pancreatic cancer.

So more people can fight this disease and live.

It's been a struggle, but I'm grateful every day and I'm happy every day.