My daughter turned 18 this Saturday (June 1st). 18 years ago I was in a hospital in Schiedam, Holland, giving birth to Kaina. How I came to give birth in Holland is a long story.
This week the CKM Bootcamp was in the desert of Israel, so I didn’t hear much of Raul. But on Sunday he was back. I am excited to hear about his adventures.
A little bit of history about me. In December of 2012, I had a Whipple surgery. Here is an explanation from the Mayo Clinic:
A Whipple procedure — also known as a pancreaticoduodenectomy — is a complex operation to remove the head of the pancreas, the first part of the small intestine (duodenum), the gallbladder and the bile duct.
The Whipple procedure is used to treat tumors and other disorders of the pancreas, intestine and bile duct. It is the most often used surgery to treat pancreatic cancer that’s confined to the head of the pancreas. After performing the Whipple procedure, your surgeon reconnects the remaining organs to allow you to digest food after surgery.https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/whipple-procedure/about/pac-20385054
Why? For a really long time, I knew there was something wrong with me. My weight was not behaving normal and I had to run to the toilet almost immediately after eating something. Every year I had a checkup and every year I heard the same: you are doing well.
In October of 2012, I remember telling my mom that I wish I had money to visit a doctor outside of Curacao. The next morning I woke up with a pain in my belly that didn’t want to go away until someone recommended me to take water with lemon and salt. The next morning, after two days of pain, I was determined to find someone that could help me. I didn’t eat or drank for the whole weekend. In the morning I took some green tea and then I had to go to the bathroom. I only reached the door. The pain was so heavy I couldn’t do a thing. I lied on the floor without moving. Later on, the ambulance came and took me to the ER. They did some tests and couldn’t find a thing. I was still in pain, but they sent me home.
I could not stand, I could not walk, I was still in pain. They put me back on the bed and did some more tests. At some point, they thought I was an alcoholic because they could see that my pancreas (alvleesklier in Dutch) was too big. I do not like alcohol. I do not drink. After I convinced them, they finally accepted that something wasn’t right and they would keep me in the hospital to find out what the problem was. That was after 13 hours at the ER.
Among common cancers, pancreatic cancer has one of the poorest prognoses. Because pancreatic cancer often grows and spreads long before it causes any symptoms, only about 6% of patients are still alive five years after diagnosis.https://www.webmd.com/cancer/pancreatic-cancer/whipple-procedure#1
After two weeks in the hospital, I could finally go home. I had a tumor at my pancreas. It was benign, but it had to be removed. There would be 1/3 of a chance to survive well, 1/3 of survival but with a lot of complications and 1/3 of chance that I would die. I had to do a lot of tests to know if I could handle the surgery physically. I was ok. A lot of papers to sign that I was the one that wanted to be operated in Curacao and not abroad. If I was to die then I would rather die close to my family and friends. The surgery has to be performed by more than one surgeon. Dr. Berry was the one from Curacao and dr. Ringers was the one who flew in from the Netherlands. Dr. Saleh was my internist who helped me along the way and after the operation. One week after the surgery I was home.
For some pancreatic patients, however, a complex surgery known as the Whipple procedure may extend life and could be a potential cure. Those who undergo a successful Whipple procedure may have a five-year survival rate of up to 25%.https://www.webmd.com/cancer/pancreatic-cancer/whipple-procedure#1
When I went to the doctor this week I realized again what I have been through. I believe that God made this happen for a reason. But I do not believe that the reason is to live and work like I am doing right now. Feeling tired, not really contributing to the community, not happy, not having time for family or friends. So I did take a decision, I Quit.
I took another decision. I will take some time off to think about what I am going to do. My road to Ph.D. is coming to a halt. But it doesn’t have to an end. The Ph.D. is not my priority right now, but I still want to do research to know more. Hopefully, I will find another way to do this.
For now, so long.