The symptoms of terminal pancreatic cancer are subtle. The disease is usually not diagnosed until it has substantially progressed, leaving a dismal five-year overall survival of five to ten percent.
According to a recent article in the New York Post, Dina Huxley and her husband Iain were celebrating the birth of their first child two weeks earlier when they were presented with shocking news. Iain had stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and the malignancy had spread to his liver.
While lain began his chemotherapy, Dina began searching for doctors. lain’s chemotherapy treatments were interrupted several times when he developed infections.
It was not so long ago that Alex Trebek, the host of Jeopardy, succumbed to pancreatic cancer, which is now the third cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. The disease is usually discovered after it has progressed and at that point, available treatments are limited.
Dina and Iain met over the internet in 2018. Before COVID, Dina worked at Sotheby’s and among his other talents, Iain created a weather app for Yahoo. Dina immigrated from Russia, and Iain, who was raised in Australia and England, came to the United States as a college student. The couple was married in 2019. Their son, Ethan, was born in June of 2021.
In the latter part of 2020, Iain noticed some discomfort beneath his ribs. He had blood tests that indicated a possible problem with his pancreas. However, further diagnostic examinations were negative.
Although the couple was relieved, the pain not only continued but increased. Ethan was born June 6th, and by that time Iain’s pain was so severe that he demanded a CT scan. The scan clearly evidenced cancer.
In addition to the pressure of trying to find doctors, Dina found tending to Iain prevented her from being able to nurse Ethan. She sent out an SOS on Facebook for donated breast milk and was overwhelmed with hundreds of offers and support. However, her pediatrician pointed out the possible health risks associated with donated milk so she graciously declined the offers.
Dina has a baby nurse to help care for Ethan, and her parents are there for additional support. Iain’s parents have been in lockdown in Australia. They appealed to a member of the Australian Parliament who facilitated their release from the lockdown to be with their son, Dina, and grandson.
Being Proactive Can Save Lives
The American Cancer Society notes that pancreatic cancers generally do not show symptoms early in the disease. When symptoms do appear, the cancers have already progressed and have spread beyond the pancreas, most often to the liver. A well-known sign of both liver and pancreatic cancers is jaundice.
Dina wants people to know the symptoms and to demand tests so that other people will not endure the same terminal diagnosis. She explains that it is a very aggressive cancer.