My name is Carole DeNettis. I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December of 2013, at the age of 68. As I began to experience stomach pains, I noticed other symptoms that worried me. My urine was dark and my skin had a yellow discoloration, indicating jaundice. I was admitted to a hospital near my home in New Jersey, but was later transported to a second New Jersey hospital. The doctors there seemed to believe that a tumor was blocking the common bile duct in my pancreas, however they could not give me a definitive diagnosis. Their idea was to do an immediate exploratory surgery but my family and I were not comfortable with this approach so we decided to get a second opinion.
While researching many different doctors and hospitals, we came across New York Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. We were specifically interested in Dr. John Chabot and decided to reach out to his office. He thankfully accepted my case and with the help of his amazing staff led by Lynette and Sarah, I was transferred to Columbia within a day. From the moment I arrived I felt very comfortable and confident about my situation. The first time I met Dr. Chabot he came into my hospital room, sat on the edge of the bed, held my hand and reassured me that he would do everything to make sure I was going to be okay. I felt a sense of calm and just knew that this was where I was supposed to be and that everything would be okay. He explained the procedure in such confident way that I knew his path would lead me through an emotional yet amazing journey to a cancer free life!! After several tests; one of which was an endoscopy performed by Dr. Poneros, it was confirmed that a small tumor at the head of my pancreas was indeed pancreatic cancer. From there the wheels were put in motion.
I was to start an 18-week, 16 cycle chemo regiment under the amazing supervision of Dr. William Sherman and his Nurse Practitioner, Kyung. My family and I can't say enough about Dr. Sherman and Kyung. They were truly amazing in guiding me through the rigorous chemo process. It felt great knowing that I could call, text or email anytime of the day or night and they were always good for a much needed laugh!! All of the nurses on the 14th floor were remarkably attentive and gentle — Diane and Rose. Jose at reception greeted us every morning with a big smile. Simone would always stop in and say a hello. Kristin, your nutritionist, would also check in with us and chat for a bit. Gabrielle is warm and genuinely cares about my well being. Since being discharged she has called to see how I was feeling. Shenelle who was at the 8thfloor reception (but has justifiable been promoted) was a welcoming face every time we came off the elevator. She made an unpleasant office visit, pleasant!!
My family and I feel like we have an extended Columbia Presbyterian Hospital family that we will forever be indebted to. By the end of the 3rd cycle, remarkably, my tumor had shrunk by fifty percent and we were all extremely thrilled by the way my body was reacting to the chemo treatments. By the end of the 6th cycle my tumor had shrunk even more! Once the tumor had shrunk to a sufficient size, Dr. Chabot and his team were eager to perform the Whipple procedure. With the help of everyone at New York Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, I felt totally confident that I was going to win this battle against pancreatic cancer. The entire staff working on my case went to extreme measures to ensure that I felt comfortable going into such a major surgery. Upon walking into surgery, I did a little dance with a 3-man anesthesiologist team. My pre-surgery nurse, Estine Santine-Rose, showed such compassion. She understood my faith and in knowing that I was nervous without the protection of my St. Anthony medal during surgery, made me as comfortable as possible. She assured me that all the faith I needed was in my heart. She even played The Novena prayer on her iPhone while she administered my IV in preparation for my surgery. The way the staff went above and beyond to accommodate me was amazing and will be something I remember forever.
Every night I thank God and ask him to watch over Dr. Chabot and his entire team as they continue to saves lives. I am truly honored to have been given the title "SURVIVOR" and have all you to thank for that.