Sandy Jones: Pummeling Pancreatic Cancer

“I cannot say enough good things about Fox Chase or Dr. Reddy.”
‐Sandy Jones

In September of 2022 I was a healthy retiree, living with my husband and enjoying life. A year later, I am a pancreatic cancer survivor.

Last year, I began to have gastrointestinal issues that concerned me. All of my life, I’ve had issues with going to the bathroom, but my doctors always told me that what might be abnormal for other people might be normal for me.

Normal Becomes Abnormal

One day, however, I decided that even my “normal” was becoming a bit abnormal. I was feeling more and more uncomfortable. A visit to a walk-in clinic resulted in a referral to my local hospital for a CT scan, which showed five pockets of infected diverticulitis. They gave me antibiotics and told me that when everything cleared up I should have a colonoscopy.

When I was making the appointment for the colonoscopy, an angel in the form of the physician assistant who scheduled the colonoscopy looked at my CT scan and noticed an area of inflammation in the tail duct of my pancreas. She told me I should see a physician for an endoscopy. Shortly after, the gastroenterologist who was going to perform the endoscopy sent me for a biopsy of my pancreas.

A Cluster of Cancer Cells

An initial round of biopsies came back negative. However, the doctor decided he wanted to do another type of biopsy called a fine needle aspiration. He took five more samples and sent them for testing. This time the results showed a cluster of cancer cells.

I wanted to get a second opinion and eventually decided to have my surgery done at a smaller hospital in Baltimore, which is about two hours from my home in Delaware. However, my gastroenterologist encouraged me to reconsider and recommended that I see Dr. Sanjay Reddy, a surgical oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center who he had worked with in the past.

I went up to Philadelphia to see Dr. Reddy, and within a few minutes I knew this was the doctor who would do my surgery. “I am not here to treat you. I am here to cure you,” he told me.

A Great Candidate for Surgery

I had no underlying conditions and had lived a healthy life. I had never smoked and only consumed alcohol socially. He said I was a great candidate for surgery.

On March 14, 2023, Dr. Reddy took out 20% of the tail of my pancreas where the cancer was located. This was all done using minimally invasive techniques, and my incision was very small.

I agreed to be part of a research project, where additional tissues were examined in a lab. The days following surgery, Dr. Reddy and the pathology team reviewed the extra tissue and said there was no cancer there, in my lymph nodes, or in any surrounding organs. A few days later, on my 78th birthday, they sent me home.

At a visit a couple of weeks later they told me that I wouldn’t need chemotherapy or radiation, but I will visit Fox Chase regularly for scans and blood work, probably for the rest of my life. I cannot say enough good things about Fox Chase or Dr. Reddy. He walked in at my three-month checkup, looked at me with a big smile, and said, “You pummeled cancer!”

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