About two years ago, I was diagnosed with a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor. Five weeks later, I underwent a Whipple procedure to remove it. I was in ICU for four days. On the first day that I was transferred to a telemetry unit, my surgeon told me that he wanted me to start walking around the unit three times a day. So I walked. With my heart monitor in one hand and my spouse holding my IV pole, I walked. With complications which required another surgery, I was in the hospital for just under one month. Except for the day of the second surgery, I got up and walked around the unit three times a day, every day.
When I got home, I had serious digestive difficulties. My cousin, an EMT, told me that walking was very good for digestive problems. So I walked. First I walked, shakily, forty feet to the mailbox and back to the house, with a friend watching anxiously from the doorway. When I accomplished that, I walked to the end of the street and back. Then I did that three times a day. By the time my recovery was complete enough for me to go back to work I was walking two miles a day.
When I was a patient, I found the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network helpful and supportive. Now that I am a volunteer, I am able to take part in Purple Stride, the annual walk-a-thon which provides patient support, legislative advocacy and research dollars to conquer pancreatic cancer. I have been lucky to survive and thrive. So I’ll walk.