A cancer survivor’s journey

Healthy Living


By Carl Hendrickson, For the Call

My journey began in November of 2019. I had been feeling fine. No pain or discomfort, but for some unexplained reason I had been losing weight. After tests, the doctor’s diagnosis was pancreatic cancer.  

In cases involving younger patients, the doctor recommended surgery, to be followed by chemotherapy and radiation. Unfortunately, I did not fall in the “younger” category. However, after testing my strength and stamina, the doctor agreed that I was an acceptable candidate for surgery.  

I experienced some of the common reactions to the doctor’s diagnosis. My first reaction was disbelief. I was feeling fine, no pain or discomfort. How could I have cancer! Then, upon agreeing to the surgery and the post-operation treatments of chemo and radiation, I began to worry about the surgery, possible side effects from the chemo and radiation and the impact that all this will have upon wife and children. 

That was in November. In December of 2019, I was operated upon to remove the cancer cells. I was in the hospital on Christmas and on my birthday on New Year’s Day. Later in January of 2020, I was released from the hospital.    

After several months recovering at home from the surgery, I began chemotherapy treatments. I had discussed with others who had undergone such treatment and was cognizant of the effect such treatment had upon them. Fortunately, other than the loss of appetite and a mild upset stomach for a day or two, I had no serious side effects.  

After completing the chemo treatment, I underwent radiation. Once again I had no serious side effects. Now, I receive a body scan every three months to see if the cancer cells have returned. So far I have been fortunate. My last test was last month and my next test in early January.

Undergoing this journey with me has been my caregiver. She has been patient, a trait that was essential. She has been attentive and supportive. For months, I was weak and needed much assistance. Today, I go to classes at a wellness center called HouseFit for strength, endurance and balance therapy. I am now able to do many of the tasks that were very difficult or impossible to do because of the surgery.  

This month is National Family Caregivers Month. It is a time to recognize and honor family caregivers. It also is the month to raise awareness of caregiving issues and the importance of family caregivers. I dedicate this monthly article to my family caregiver, my wife Saralou. Thank you!