Stories of Hope: John Whitley

My name is John Whitley, and I have lived in Nyack for 25 years.

In January 2011, I got sick, then rapidly sicker. At first they thought I had a gall bladder problem, but when I didn't improve after gall bladder removal, I was referred to New York Presbyterian Hospital. Many, many tests finally revealed that I was in the early stages of pancreatic cancer.

On May 20, 2011, I underwent a five-hour Whipple procedure which successfully removed 100-percent of the tumor on my pancreas. After several weeks of recovery, I went back for scans prior to starting preventative chemo.

Unfortunately, the scans showed that the cancer had metastasized to my liver where I had a 1.8cm tumor. I was told that I was "Stage 4" — everything would be done that "could be done," but I probably had 12 months or less to live. A few days later, after surgery to implant an i/v port, I started chemo and agreed to participate in a clinical trial, taking an experimental drug produced by an Australian Company.

On Sept 16, 2011 my oncologist called me to tell me that scans from the previous day showed that the tumor in my liver had "disappeared to the point where it no longer can be detected." He described it as a miracle.

Preventative chemo continued for another seven months, and here I am today: scans as recently as a month ago show that I continue to be tumor and cancer-free, or "NED" (No Evidence of Disease). I am only my oncologist's fourth patient in 15 years to show a "complete response to treatment" for Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Without the incredible team at The Pancreas Center at NYP, I literally would not be here today. I literally owe my life to Dr. John Allendorf, Dr. Wasif Saif, Dr. Yoomi Lee, and many, many others at The Pancreas Center and all the other departments of New York Presbyterian Hospital during my "regular visits" there from March 2011 onwards.