Leonora Kaufmann says she had a sense something was wrong.
"I had an intutition that I was going to get pancreatic cancer; I don't know why, but I told my doctor in 2011, that I was going to get pancreatic cancer and she put it in my chart,” recalled Kaufmann.
Kaufmann says she had no symptoms.
"I had a co-worker die of pancreatic cancer, so I went to the doctor's office and I pretended I had a pain that was radiated to my back; I pretended I had symptoms of pancreatic cancer, so I asked her to please screen for pancreatic cancer,” said Kaufmann.
Those tests came back negative, but Kaufmann still had concerns. "So, I asked them to send me the report and i looked at it, and on the report, it said, there's a minimal dilation of the pancreatic duct....and, I knew 70% of the time it means you have pancreatic cancer. They did an endoscopic ultrasound and they found the cancer and, I, then went for surgery, went for chemotherapy,” said Kaufmann.
Kaufmann was diagnosed with Stage 1 pancreatic cancer. Dr. Jerome Butler of Caromont Health says pancreatic cancer is hard to diagnose. Pain and weight loss are common symptoms, but many factors can play a role.
"The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 53,000 Americans diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2016. There is pre-genetic disposition to pancreatic cancer, but also age, smoking, and alcohol use,” said Dr. Butler.
But, Dr.Butler says there are some ways you can help prevent it. "Living a good, healthy lifestyle and staying away from alcohol use, would be the best way to prevent pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Butler.
Kauffman says she eliminated sugar completely,but she believes her diagnosis gave her a second chance at life and an opportunity to give hope to others.
"I want to help other people through this...I want them to stay strong. I want them to stay positive and keep fighting,” said Kaufmann.
Kauffman will be celebrating four years as a survivor in 2017 and believes everyone should "wage hope,” saying, "I think you see that with a lot of people with pancreatic cancer....they never lose hope."