Whipple saves Don from pancreatic cancer

Health Watch

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— Pancreatic cancer. By the time you know you have it, it is usually too late. This year, 60,000 people will be told they have it. Almost 50,000 will die from it. In fact, pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers. But now, a new life-saving robotic surgery is giving those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a fighting chance.

And the collection just kept growing … old phones, turn of the century typewriters, antique stoves. For 75-year-old Don Somerville, memories of the past can be spotted all around his house.

Don’s lived a long, full life; a soldier, a singer, a lawyer, and now a cancer survivor!

“Whenever you tell people pancreatic cancer, people go, ‘Oh, I’m sorry.’ You already know there are basically, you know, writing you off right as you sit there,” shared Don.

But Ahmad Abou Abbass, MD, FACS, hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgeon, Mission Hospital in Viejo, California is not going to let that happen. He used a new state- of- the- art robotic Whipple procedure to laparoscopically remove Don’s cancer.

“It’s like driving a machine and I sit on the machine and actually every move I do, it translates into a movement in the robot,” explained Dr. Abbass.

The Whipple procedure creates tiny incisions in the abdomen, about the size of a pencil head to reach the pancreas.

“For cancers in the head of the pancreas, it entails removing the head of the pancreas with all the other organs and doing all that reconstruction,” continued Dr. Abbass.

The Whipple uses a 3D camera that magnifies the area nine times. Instead of recovery taking up to 10 days in the hospital, patients experience less pain, and many go home in four days.

“They are up and walking, next day,” said Dr. Abbass.

For Don, after surgery followed by chemo, he now has more life to live and more memories to make.

“I am so happy with that outcome,” smiled Don.

Pancreatic cancer is so hard to treat because it’s usually not detected until later stages. Early symptoms include jaundice, irritated skin, a dull pain in the belly or upper abdomen, weight loss, orange-colored urine, nausea, and blood clots.

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