Janice Hudnell-Davis: Listening to the Body Leads to Detection of Pancreatic Cancer

“Pancreatic cancer is such a fast-moving cancer. If I had ignored my pain, I wouldn’t be here today.”
‐Janice Hudnell-Davis

In January 2022, I listened to my body, and it may have saved my life. I initially went to the doctor because I had hemorrhoids that had been acting up for about a week. Not only was an over-the-counter medication not working, but I had also noticed a change in the color of my stool. Together, these were red flags that something wasn’t right.

At my doctor’s appointment, she noticed that my eyes looked jaundiced and sent me for blood work that Friday. On Monday, her office called to say my bloodwork was completely out of whack and she wanted me to get an ultrasound of my liver ASAP.

I was at work after the ultrasound and my doctor called me. I knew right away something was wrong because after the other tests her office called me. It was never the doctor calling me back. That’s how I knew it was serious. My doctor told me she saw a spot on my pancreas and that she wanted me to get a CT scan done as soon as possible.

I left work immediately to get the scan. My doctor called the next day with the results. She said it could be cancer, but that I needed further testing. She told me to get to Fox Chase Cancer Center immediately.

Seeing the Best

My doctor told me to go see Dr. Sanjay Reddy, a surgical oncologist. She said she had worked with him before and that he was the best.

Within a week and a half I was at Fox Chase to see Dr. Reddy. That time before my appointment felt like the longest time of my life.

Dr. Reddy said the starting point was to get a biopsy done to see if the spot on my pancreas was cancer. I also had to get a stent put in because some of my bile ducts were blocked, so the stent would help them drain.

I was on pins and needles because I didn’t know what to expect. I had lost my birth father in April of 2020 to gallbladder cancer, and I lost my bonus father to pancreatic cancer six months prior to my own diagnosis.

After the biopsy results came in, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2022, when I was 44 years old.

Starting Treatment

Dr. Reddy and medical oncologist Dr. Michael Hall said the first step was to go through eight cycles of chemotherapy. I was at Fox Chase for eight and a half hours every Wednesday. It was intensive chemotherapy and I had to stop working. I had a bad reaction during my second cycle of chemo, but they were able to adjust things so I could complete my treatment.

After chemotherapy, I had 25 radiation therapy treatments with Dr. Joshua Meyer, a radiation oncologist. That lasted about five weeks. Once that was done, they took a few scans to see how the cancer had reacted. The first scan didn’t look so good because the mass was sitting on some major blood vessels near my pancreas.

Dr. Reddy and Dr. Hall decided to give my body some time to recover. After waiting a month or two, another scan showed the mass had moved off the blood vessels. With those results, Dr. Reddy was ready to do my surgery, which I had in December of 2022.

Getting Back to Normal

The surgery went well, and today I am getting back to normal. Pancreatic cancer is such a fast-moving cancer. If I had ignored my pain, I wouldn’t be here today.

I am working full time. More importantly, though, I am enjoying life and enjoying the people in my life. I want to make every day a better day than the one before.

During this whole time, I had a great support system, including my husband, my four children, my mother, my sisters, and other family and friends.

I have to go back to Fox Chase every three months for a check-up, but that’s okay, because being at Fox Chase is the best experience I could hope for. Everyone, from the people who greet you at the front door to the people in the cafeteria to the doctors and nurses, makes you feel so loved and so good.

Where you start when you have cancer is so important. For me, Fox Chase is the place to start.

Learn more about treatment for pancreatic cancer at Fox Chase Cancer Center.