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Anne Gruzdowich, a mother of two, a wife of 36 years, and a self-described pedal-to-the-metal woman, received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in the spring of 2016. Anne went to her doctor with ongoing stomach troubles and some chest pain. After taking the prescribed Prilosec with no positive results, she started itching, and her skin turned yellow. A follow-up appointment with an internist led to a temporary diagnosis of hepatitis, but that was ruled out and after an ultrasound indicated trouble with her pancreas. Anne received a referral to a gastroenterologist who sent her for a CT scan. The CT revealed a tumor up against her bile duct—the reason for her yellow skin and earlier diagnosis of hepatitis. She underwent a first surgery but required a second surgery—this time a Whipple—which was successful. Four weeks post-surgery, Anne started a 6-month cycle of chemotherapy. She is currently tumor-free.
Anne’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis has changed her outlook on life. She now allows time for reflection to “enjoy small moments of beauty” as she states it and to appreciate the “therapeutic emotion of awe.”