Wendy’s Story of Courage

Categories: Success Stories

My story began in July 1999 when I was struck with this excruciating pain on my upper abdomen. I went to the emergency room and after the lab test came back, I was told I had acute pancreatitis. I had no clue what this was but one of the doctors told me the most common cause was from excessive drinking. I knew this couldn’t be what was causing my pain because I hardly drank. So I thought this was a fluke and would never have this happen again. Boy was I ever wrong!! Over the next several years I would end up back in the emergency room with more attacks of pancreatitis and each time the doctors would ask about my drinking history. I would have several tests done after each episode. In 2006 someone recommended I meet with Dr. Timothy Gardner who was specializing in with pancreatitis. I had high hopes he would have the answers. Unfortunately, he too was not sure why I was having recurrent chronic pancreatitis. With all the tests ( CT scans, blood tests, and EUS) no answers. In 2009 I had a really bad attack I ended up losing over 30 pounds because I wasn’t able to eat or drink anything without pain. Dr. Gardner said I needed a feeding tube because my weight was below 110 and requested I also meet with a surgeon who specialized in Whipple procedures for patients with pancreatitis. I did and had my first surgery(whipple) in Feb 2010. Dr. Gardner gave me the news that I had IPMN (Intraductual Papillary Mucinous Neoplasm) the words pre-cancer cells is what he told me. He said they were pretty confident they got all the margins and I would be fine. But in April 2010, the pancreatitis came back and I was told I needed the remaining pancreas removed. 2nd surgery was in July 2010. Now I was an insulin dependent diabetic and unable to control my blood sugars. For several months I would suffer from very low sugars do my doctors suggested I meet with the transplant team to see if I was a candidate for a pancreas transplant. I met with the team in Feb 2011 and had my transplant in Dec that same year. Since my diagnosis, I have wanted to give back by helping others stricken with the same disease. I met Jane Holt in 2012 and spoke with Patter about possibly becoming a member of the National Pancreas Foundation. I am honored to be such a member. I have shared my story with others and helped others who had to have surgeries due to pancreatitis. I am glad I am able to share my story if it helps others.