• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Slaying the dragon of pancreatic cancer

March 19, 2017

Dr. Mark Truty in surgery scrubs standing in hospital corridorThomas Hoffman of Spearfish, South Dakota, was 56 years old, weighed 235, and had been diagnosed with prediabetes when he began to diet. As the pounds melted away, his wife became alarmed at his rapid weight loss. Then one morning, he awoke and his wife told him he was completely yellow — not from the sun streaming into the bedroom, but from jaundice. Thomas went to a local emergency room.

“The doctor comes in and gives us the news: ‘You have pancreatic cancer. You’ve got six months to live. Get your stuff together,’” Thomas says. “What do you do?”

What his doctors did was send Thomas to Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus, where he met Mark Truty, M.D., a surgical oncologist, who is rewriting the protocol for treating stage III pancreatic cancer, with notable success. Dr. Truty started Thomas on chemotherapy right away, followed by radiation therapy and then an extensive surgery. After that came more chemo. Now, nearly three years after his diagnosis, Thomas remains cancer-free.

“I’ve gained my strength back where I can ride my Harley again,” Thomas says. “I’m never going to be 100 percent. But hey, I’ll live with whatever it takes. I just want to be as normal as I can. I can do my little hobbies. I can help my son out. I can see my grandkids. I help my wife in her business. I just do what I do.” Read the rest of Thomas' story. ___________________________________________________________

This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.