The weekend started as most weekends did in February of 2010, with getting up early and going to Lake Casitas to fish. But unfortunately on this day I became ill once out on the lake with what my wife Barbie and I thought might be food poisoning. I struggled, became extremely ill and had to return home. With the weeks that followed my appetite went up and down as did my weight. Concern started to enter both our minds so we made an appointment with my family doctor. The usual tests were run but nothing could tell us what was going on with my health or why I was in so much pain. Eventually we were referred to Dr. Howard Reber. By this time I had lost almost 46 pounds off of my 5′ 9″ frame. Once through the UCLA doors we were on our way to finding the answer to our question – what is going on with my health?
After meeting Dr. Reber and his team we knew we were among the best of the best!
The endoscopic ultrasounds showed that there was a cancerous tumor blocking the pancreatic duct that caused extreme pain and in turn prevented me from eating and drinking as one would normally do. With this news the “team” met and surgery was set for August 11, 2010. The night before surgery we drove down from Ventura with my parents and stayed on campus. After six hours in surgery, Dr. Reber came out to tell them that my surgery was successful. Relief filled the air from family members and Barbie could breathe, once again.
In January of 2011 my oncologist, Dr. William Isacoff, called to inform us that the cancer had spread to my peritoneum (the lining of my stomach), surgery was not an option and that I needed to begin chemotherapy treatments. I started a pill called Afinitor. So far my tumors have been responding to this treatment.
It was soon after that when we got in touch with the Hirshberg Foundation to set up a visit to the Hirshberg Laboratory at UCLA and spoke more about different treatment options, clinical trials, patient and family support information and also how we might be able to help in the future. In October of this past year I was invited by the Hirshberg Foundation to be the official starter of the 10K race at the LA Cancer Challenge (quite an honor). This was our first experience and both of us were impressed with the organization, the warmth of all, the booths, costumes and more! To add to the excitement I was also asked to share my story for the Foundation that would be broadcast on their website.
Most recently my family and I participated in the 8th Annual Agi Hirshberg Symposium at UCLA where we were able to listen to, ask questions and chat with the guest speakers (and new found friends). I was able to meet other survivors at the Symposium which was the icing on my cake! Speaking of desserts, there were some yummy treats after the great lunch that was provided for us. It was quite an inspirational day.
Because we have been inspired by the Hirshberg Foundation, I want to use the passion I have for fishing and combine it with an event to benefit the Foundation. I want to be able to reach out to the community and help educate them on what pancreatic cancer is and on ways others can Help. On December 12, 2011 an article was published on my story as a Bass Fisherman in the Ventura County Star. Please go to VCStar.com and log on to that date and you will be able to see a short video with me as the narrator. It’s well worth the time. We are in the beginning stages of getting a website up and running for our upcoming June event in Ventura, California called Fishing For A Cure. If you would like more information, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
God Bless and Take Care,
Doug and Barbie
Since Doug’s diagnosis he has been an avid supporter and participant in Hirshberg Foundation events and programs including the Annual symposium, the LA Cancer Challenge and hosting his Fishing for a Cure fundraising event. He continues to share his story with the community, advocating for patients and raising awareness. His passion for life and his determination to never give up continues to inspire us all!