Things started in March with fatigue, some abdominal soreness, then I noticed my eyes getting yellow, stools getting pale and urine getting dark. Immediately stopped drinking alcohol as I'd had liver trouble in the past.
My primary care physician was doing blood work trying to figure the problem from that angle, said I was having painless jaundice.
23 April I get a call, "Get to the emergency room, liver numbers are very high." Ultrasound and CT scan later, I'm sent up the road to Baltimore to the UM Medical center because they saw a suspicious mass pressing against the main bile duct in those scans and further procedure are beyond their capability. UMMC does an endoscopy and then an ERCP to place a shunt, along with a biopsy, back to my local hospital (5 hour round trip in an ambulance, 5 hours there for procedures and recovery) for in-patient care. Released on 4 May as numbers looked close enough to normal that I could finish recuperating at home, though pathology report is possible tumor in the head of the pancreas causing the bile duct blockage.
Back to the ER on 10 May as I had a fever of 103.5F, and the jaundice was not clearing, shunt was occluded. Back up the road to UMMC, as an in-patient this time. Another ERCP, placing a larger shunt, and biopsy. Tumor is confirmed.
Oncology-surgeon speaks with me, recommends surgery (mass looked isolated and not spreading). He thinks we caught it early enough to gain a good life expectancy afterward.
Had a modified (pylorus preserving) Whipple on 2 June at UMMC. Surgeon told my wife and family after the procedure that he believes they got everything and that there was minimal spread, pathology confirms. One nerve was possibly involved, tumor had grown and was touching small intestine, but not infiltrating, no other tissue involved save minor suspicious tissue in 4 of 29 lymph nodes.
By 3 weeks after, I was walking a little over a mile a day and the staples came out of the incision, which is healing well. Very little residual soreness.
Meeting with local oncologist to plan chemo today, which is week 4, outlook is good.
Am well aware of mortality rate, a maternal uncle died of the disease in June 2008.