Another day at the Pancreas Multi-Disciplinary Clinic up at Hopkins. Eight patients, some who are newly diagnosed and some who have been living with their disease for many months, coming to this single day gathering of really good doctors, nurses, pain specialists, and dieticians.
They come with loving family members who need answers too. Is there a chance that their loved one is a candidate for surgery? Can chemotherapy shrink the disease that is choking the life out of this vital organ? What kind of radiation is available to kill the tumor?
Will any treatment for this bad cancer really help?
I study the faces looking back at the doctor, as he explains that each case is considered carefully and individually. Depending on what each patients’ scans reveal, treatment will vary. But these faces reflect only worry. They’re trying to listen, but most of them have that “How did I end up here?” look in their eyes.
By the end of the day, when the exam doors open and close and open again, these patients, one by one, have learned where they stand with their cancer. Most of them won’t hear good news, but they will be given a course of treatment that will suit the stage of their disease. It will probably be the most aggressive approach possible. That’s the way it is in this clinic. Never think about giving-up. It’s all about hope. It’s all about living.