Survivor Riding 42,500 Miles against pancreatic cancer

Jennifer Calaprice's Story

Filed under: Your Stories — @ 12:46 pm November 20, 2009

Hello! I’m Jennifer Calaprice.

I am married to a 6 Year Survivor of Recurrent Pancreatic Cancer. Chris was diagnosed in 2003. He was 36 years old.

The floor below my feet had vanished. And, just as quickly, our world was turned upside-down. My only concern was doing what was necessary to keep Chris alive.

Luckily, the cancer was caught early.

The months following diagnosis were a constant stream of hospitals, doctor appointments, surgeries, medications, recovery, chemotherapy, good days and bad days. The successful Whipple surgery, in particular, was an extensive and complicated surgery and recovery for Chris. He was lucky to have received such an option. Three months after surgery, due to the tenaciousness of pancreatic cancer, Chris started his chemotherapy regimen. Three months after that a scan glowed positive for cancer. My worst nightmare was coming true. I was terrified and furious and sad. Lucky for me my sister was a phone call away. Lucky for all of us an adjustment in Chris’ chemotherapy regimen proved successful in eradicating the cancerous cells.

Chris has since been diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer, and has become a diabetic (a potential condition post-Whipple). Luckily, the melanomas were removed with clear margins and he is now maintaining excellent blood glucose levels. Chris continues to undergo chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer and will, quite possibly, for the rest of his life. Needless to say there are many doctors on my Christmas baking list, all of them so deserving.

My husband is lucky to be alive. His strength of mind, body, and soul continues to amaze me. He is lucky to have the best and most experienced doctors and nurses in the world. We are lucky to have our wonderful support group of friends and family. Surviving this without them is unimaginable.

Many people are not as lucky.

Chris and I remain positive and are enjoying our life and our time together, more than ever before.

He is currently 100% cancer-free.

We are lucky.

Please help us spread awareness and raise funds for pancreatic cancer.

Get involved in Road2ACure – The 50 State Tour Documentary beginning February, 20th 2010
Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer death in the United States, yet it receives less than 2% of our National Cancer Institute research funds.

I am Nora Calaprice, mother.

Filed under: Survivorship,Your Stories — Nora @ 10:20 pm November 16, 2009

All the other roles that I have played in my relatively long life – happy young wife, unhappy young widow, career person, miserable party in a second attempt at married bliss, cancer survivor – are secondary to that essential truth – I am a mother.

It is impossible to imagine that anyone could suffer life-threatening cancer without really noticing it much, but I think that is what happened to me.

Today, as in all the other days that have passed since October 2003, I live with the fact that my son, 41 years old, is a survivor of pancreatic cancer. Each of those days I have woken up with the same absolutely determined thought – pancreatic cancer will not come back today or any other day. This mantra must be part of what has made me able to continue being what I think of as a whole person. It has kept me believing that there is hope no matter what.

I think I can say honestly that I really do understand what everyone with one of these dreadful diseases must suffer. Six months after Chris’s 10-hour surgery and his prolonged pain-filled recovery from it, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, had the surgery, and Chris and I together endured the chemotherapy that followed – 6 months for me, unending to this day for him. My memories of that awful time primarily reflect my fear and dread of what was happening in Chris’s life, and my concern for its effect on Jenny’s life, and on my other son and his family. I hardly thought about my own.

Through all this I watched my son and his wife face every day – good and bad — with a spirit of optimism and determination to really live every moment. They were, and remain, our inspiration, our cornerstones that help us maintain our strength and spirit. They are my heroes.

If I could speak to all out there with this terrible cancer and other bad ones, I would say maintain hope, do not be persuaded that there is none.

As Chris and Jenny have taught all of us to do, be determined to believe that help is on the way. We will find the means to fund the research for methods of early detection, specific new treatments, dependable remission, and CURE.