Health

How white poop was a telltale sign I had lethal pancreatic cancer… aged just 32

By Emily Joshu, health reporter for Dailymail.Com

12:55 p.m. April 15, 2024, updated 1:27 p.m. April 15, 2024

  • Matthew Rosenblum was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer at the age of 32.
  • Despite slim odds, treatment allowed him to live three and a half years
  • READ MORE: Breakthrough in fight against world’s deadliest cancer



A Michigan man who was given a year to live after being diagnosed with deadly pancreatic cancer is still alive almost four years later thanks to a “miracle” drug combination.

Matthew Rosenblum was just 32 years old in January 2021 when he realized he had lost weight and his stools had turned bone white.

“At first I thought I was hungover. I had a few beers the night before, so I drank some Gatorade and stayed in bed, but the urine didn’t get any clearer,” Mr. Rosenblum told The Patient Story.

The former doctoral student was diagnosed with a common digestive disease at the age of 25, Crohn’s disease, which causes inflammation of the colon.

Mr. Rosenblum assumed his symptoms were a result of the illness, because gastrointestinal distress was “par for the course for me.”

However, a few days later, his palms and soles of his feet started to itch, which he described as “probably the worst” symptom. “I’ve never felt anything like this before and they’re hard spots to scratch,” he said.

Matthew Rosenblum, 35, was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer after doctors deemed him “too young”.
Despite poor odds, he survived his pancreatic cancer for three years and showed signs of improvement.
Mr. Rosenblum said that while he doesn’t expect to live out the next six years of his chemotherapy treatment, he wants other patients to know that “you’re not a statistic.”

“After a whole night of itching, I put my hands and feet in the bathtub under hot water to numb the sensation.”

He went to the hospital where urgent care doctors told Mr. Rosenblum that his blood was high in bilirubin — a byproduct of broken down red blood cells that influences the color of stools.

High levels can indicate a blockage of the bile ducts, a tube-like structure that connects the liver to the small intestine.

Ultrasounds revealed a narrowing of this tube, which doctors tried to stretch using a stent.

Mr Rosenblum said: “There was no sense of urgency… they didn’t think it was scary.”

Doctors removed the stent a few months later – only for Mr Rosenblum’s symptoms to return. His gastroenterologist told him, “I don’t know what’s going on, but you definitely don’t have cancer.” »

“If you get cancer, I will turn in my grave. »

However, just two hours later, Mr Rosenblum’s results showed a tumor in a part of the abdomen called the ampulla of Vater – a small opening where the bile and pancreatic ducts join.

Mr. Rosenblum suffered from stage four pancreatic cancer, the third deadliest form of the disease in the United States.

It has been nicknamed the “silent killer” because patients rarely show symptoms before they spread to other parts of the body, where they are incurable.

In about 80 percent of cases, the disease is diagnosed at an advanced stage, while the chances of surviving more than five years drop to three percent.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that just over 44 percent of pancreatic cancer patients survive more than five years if the disease is still localized to the area of ​​origin. It has an average survival rate of 12 percent
Early signs of pancreatic cancer include jaundice, stomach pain, back pain, weight loss and loose stools.

Common symptoms include stomach pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, jaundice, dark urine, light or floating stools, fatigue, and itching.

The NCI estimates that 64,000 cases of pancreatic cancer were diagnosed last year, along with more than 50,000 deaths.

The majority of patients are over 65, and only 1.9 percent are Mr. Rosenblum’s age.

“The most common narrative about pancreatic cancer is that it is not only very deadly, but also very difficult to diagnose,” Rosenblum said.

“The pancreas is deeply embedded in the body. Early symptoms are very nuanced, can go unnoticed, and can also be misdiagnosed as a multitude of other factors.

“By the time you experience symptoms, the cancer has spread outside of the pancreas. I don’t want to say it’s too late, but that’s the popular belief.

Mr. Rosenblum was scheduled to undergo a Whipple procedure, also known as a pancreaticoduodenectomy. This involves the removal of the head of the pancreas, part of the small intestine, part of the bile ducts, the gallbladder, and some surrounding lymph nodes.

EXCLUSIVE: 39-year-old Iowa father with stage four pancreatic cancer nearly loses access to life-saving chemotherapy drug due to nationwide shortage

An Iowa father of two battling one of the world’s deadliest cancers found himself nearly deprived of life-saving chemotherapy due to a national drug shortage.

However, his surgeon said that once they opened it, they found that the cancer had spread to other organs, making it inoperable.

Instead, he was prescribed a six-month course of treatment with a powerful concoction of chemotherapy drugs that were “horrible” and “really, really abrasive.”

Mr. Rosenblum suffered debilitating nerve damage that left him unable to get up from a chair on his own.

Worse still, the drug failed to shrink the tumor.

“At that point, I wasn’t sure if I would be an outlier or a miracle. I thought that was it,” Mr. Rosenblum said.

Doctors discovered that Mr. Rosenblum had a mutation in his BRCA2 gene, which is associated with several forms of cancer, including breast and pancreatic. This led doctors to believe that targeted therapies could help.

The oncologist told him: “with treatment, you might have a good one to three years left, but that’s it.”

Mr. Rosenblum received a combination of the chemotherapy drugs gemcitabine, nab-paclitaxel and cisplatin (GAP). “My quality of life has improved dramatically,” he said.

“By the time my first set of scans came around three months later, some of the spots on my liver had started to disappear.

“I didn’t lose my hair. I’m six feet tall. I weighed 215 pounds when I was diagnosed and have miraculously maintained a healthy weight, so I am very grateful for that.

“At that point I thought I was still dying sooner rather than later, so I was trying to have fun and that certainly made having fun a lot easier.”

As of March 2022, doctors could not identify any cancer aside from Mr. Rosenblum’s primary tumor. Almost a year to the day, they successfully performed Whipple surgery and removed the majority of the cancer.

Mr. Rosenblum will undergo tests to evaluate the remaining tumor every three months for the next six years.

However, he acknowledged that even though he exceeded the odds set for him by his doctors, “my chances of living those six years are astronomically low.”

“Pancreatic cancer has a remarkably low five-year survival rate. I’m unlikely to see all that time, at least on paper.

Mr. Rosenblum continues to focus on raising awareness and ensuring that other patients do not automatically view pancreatic cancer as a death sentence.

“It’s important to remember that you are not a statistic,” he said. “I was diagnosed with something I wasn’t supposed to have at my age. It was very unlikely. It was supposed to kill me and I didn’t die, so in a sense I foiled not once, but twice.

“Sometimes things get worse before they get better and that’s no reason to get discouraged.”

“Have a drink, eat the cheeseburger and live your life as much as you can.” This is how I lived. Take your health seriously but also meet yourself where you are.

News Source : www.dailymail.co.uk
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