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My Whipples in June 2009 and the Good Toilet Guide

Trevor F

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I was diagnosed with a masshead at the top of my pancreas just over a year ago. I was told that it was operable without chemo and that I was the ideal candidate for this operation. In May 2009 I turned yellow from head to toe and my blood count was off the Richter scale. So I had a stent put in so that at least my face was no longer yellow.

I then had a successful Whipples procedure carried out at the Wellington Hospital, London, on 26 June 2009, where I stayed until discharged on 8 July. In fact I was quite happy staying there watching the First Test between England and Australia. After that I stayed at home for a few weeks watching the grass grow. I was sore for weeks and went to the toilet at least 3 times a day. About 10 days after discharge I started driving again, locally at first and then getting a bit more ambitious in August when we took a few day trips to the coast and to the Cotswolds.

My abdominal scar healed completely in August when a bandage was no longer needed, a great psychological boost. In September I went back to work, part time at first building up to full time by November. Then at the end of November everything clicked back into place. The soreness went away and it no longer felt as though someone had stuck a knife into me, which had indeed been the case. At the end of November a new client in Switzerland called me to tell me about a new software project over there and would I be interested in joining the team. I said that I would be interested.

Meanwhile I had started a course of adjuvent chemo at the end of August which finished in February. I took about 500 Gemcitabine pills in that period, the only side effect being the runs.

Between Xmas and New Year we made a short driving trip to Brittany, my first trip out of the UK for some months. In January I flew out to Zurich to start part time on the new project which became full-time from February this year. I now commute weekly from London to Zurich. I still get the runs and I can tell you that the toilets at Zurich airport are the cleanest in the world. In fact all Swiss toilets are clean. I could even write a Good Toilet Guide for what it's worth.

That has been my experience so far. I will keep you updated.

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Hi Trevor,

Welcome to the forum :)

Your story is inspiring, almost as if the cancer was just a minor set-back which you took by the horns and promptly gave it the boot and put it in it's place, allowing you to return to life as normal.....well done! It is such a lift to read a more positive story once in a while as this type of cancer doesn't have many happy endings, and most journeys through it are absolutely horrendous.

I also found I recovered from the operation better than expected, although my stay in hospital doesn't sound as nice as yours - I would have killed to have left the day after the op if I'd known what my stay was going to be like! :evil:

What interests me is the fact that you are still suffering from the runs. I am guessing you had a substantial part of your pancreas removed, but have not become diabetic. However, that isn't the only roll of the pancreas, the other is the production of digestive enzymes. Without them, you will experience bloating, gas, soft pale stools that can smell absolutely awful, regular visits to the loo and in most cases weight loss. If this rings any bells with you, you may want to ask your specialist nurse/gp/consultant about CREON pancreatic enzyme capsules. You take some with all food, especially meals - the amount is down to trial and error - apparently you can never take too many, but you can take too little. You won't need one if you are eating an apple, but for anything that has fat content you will. I started on the 10,000 strength - but it quickly became apparent that it wasn't enough. I know take a 25,000 capsule with small snacks and a 40,000 capsule with meals - sometimes 2 of them, depending on the food.

Anyway, I hope the above helps - and thanks for the info on the toilets ;-)

Kind regards,


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Juliana and Penny,

Thank you for your replies.

I think the pills were capcitabine............ they were one or the other but the course finished in February.

I still get the runs.... some days are better than others but to be honest it's not that disruptive. It doesn't really interfere with my working day. It's just the runs, that's all, no bloating or any of the other stuff, etc.

But Switzerland has really great toilets.

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No I am not taking enzymes. These need to be prescribed ? I am seeing my oncologist again in July for the next 3 month visit..... I can bounce this off him then.

3 weeks ago I went to the top of the Jungfrau by mountain railway ( about 11000 feet ASL ). There's this great toilet at Kleine Scheidegg ( 6000 feet ASL ) on the way up.... must have been the highest one I've ever been to.

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Trevor F

I had my Whipples a month after you and have recovered well. I've done a 4.5 mile charity run for Pnacreatic cancer UK and can do everything I used to do. The only very minor problem is that I often feel bloated and I take the enzyme supplements Creon, before every meal and snack. They're a nuisance but no more than that. I've put back all the 2 stone Im lost and needed no further treatment. Fingers crossed etc !

Good luck to all you Whipples people and to you wonderful surgeons. Thank you


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