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Mary woke up from an endoscopic ultrasound to Dr. Yang holding her hand, not realizing she was about to receive the most devastating news of her life. Mary had arrived at AdventHealth Orlando that same morning from AdventHealth Apopka after her bloodwork showed signs of concern in her liver enzymes.
The results from her ultrasound would later be confirmed as stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Back at AdventHealth Apopka, Mary was placed under the care of board-certified oncologist Dr. Grant Jester, “I need you to fight, and we will fight with you.”
Mary would fight for the next 21 days in the hospital, 3 of those days in the ICU, without knowing if she was going to make it. The reality of her condition hit her when her youngest daughter, only 15 at the time, asked her, “Mom are you dying?” Mary responded with, “No, I’m fighting.”
In August, Mary began rigorous chemotherapy at AdventHealth Celebration with the help of Dr. Jester, “He was there for me whenever I needed him,” shared Mary as she reflected on her time, “For the doctors to show that kind of care and concern, to me, says something about AdventHealth as a whole.”
By January, Mary had endured 12 rounds of chemo, 9 hospital emergencies, and over 59 days in the hospital. On her 50th birthday, Mary was admitted into the hospital where Dr. Jester gave her a big hug and delivered the good news that she was now a candidate for the Whipple procedure, and she would be scheduled to remove the tumor, “You deserve this.”
Dr. De la Fuentes led her surgery on February 24, and advised that all her margins were clear. “Go and celebrate. You’re good.” Mary continues to be under the care of Dr. Jester and gets scanned every three months to monitor her cancer. To this day, her margins remain clear.
Mary will be participating in a fundraising event on May 30, called Racing for Cancer Research through Adventhealth’s Play it Forward program. Proceeds from this event will go directly to supporting cancer research to improve the quality of life for patients like Mary and ultimately discover a cure.
“Cancer research is very much a part of my heart.” Click here to give, and join Mary in the race to finding a cure.