At age 51, Loie was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. At the time of this interview, she had just celebrated five years cancer-free. Loie beat the odds.
On average, individuals with this disease survive 4-6 months after diagnosis, and only about 6% make it to five years. Early diagnosis is rare, as symptoms can be very subtle, or even nonexistent. All too often, the cancer is locally advanced or has spread outside of the pancreas by the time it is found, and surgery, the only curative treatment, is no longer an option. Even with surgery, prognosis is poor, with five year survival rates ranging from 10-30%.
Everyone copes with illness differently. For Loie, focusing on the positive was the key. She didn’t want to hear or think about the severity of her condition. In her words, “I protected myself by not knowing.” She chose not to read a lot about her cancer, and intentionally avoided the Internet. She decided she was going to get better, and, except in rare and fleeting moments, she did not allow herself to consider other options — like an early death. In talking to her young son, Chris, Loie decided to tell him that everything would be fine, even though she was well aware of the grim statistics.
Loie has been lucky, and her positive attitude has helped her along the way.
Listen to Loie’s husband, Wayne, and her son, Chris as well, as they share their experiences of having a family member with cancer.
Story first appeared on WBUR Commonhealth Blog on August 26, 2010: http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2010/08/pancreatic-cancer-kills
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