On July 28, 2019, we received the news that my father, John Oddenino, was diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatic cancer and we were told he has 12-18 months left to live with treatment.
The months following his diagnosis were, and continue to be an emotional rollercoaster. We (im)patiently waited for doctor visits, dad to begin chemo, and then looked forward to the breaks in between treatments when he finally felt more normal. His fingers would go numb, foods he once loved he no longer enjoyed, he was tired, and rapidly losing weight. Although during all this, when he could muster up the energy, dad would still go out and play his beloved golf. My parents celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary, I hosted Thanksgiving dinner for the Oddenino clan, and we set off fireworks to celebrate my mom's birthday in December. As the baby of six, dad's incredible siblings spoiled him with love and care, often staying for days at a time and helping take him to appointments. At the half-way point of his treatments, we discovered the tumor on his pancreas shrunk and the cancer was decreasing. The chemo was working.
Uplifted, we continued to make plans and enjoy life together. In February, my parents decided to take a trip to Florida just the two of them to celebrate his 60th birthday. Upon his return, dad developed symptoms of jaundice and we found out he had a blockage in his liver. After several more doctor visits and multiple opinions, we found a surgeon who felt confident to perform surgery to put in a stent. A little over a week later, with still no relief, my dad went back to the hospital and discovered the tumor grew substantially, he developed liver failure, and his cancer continued to metastasize. He was no longer a candidate for chemo or any other treatment.
March 21st, my dad came back home from the hospital. Tired, weak, and frail he maintained his humor and love for grape popsicles. He was surrounded by the love of his family and passed peacefully on Saturday, March 28th, the same day as his granddaughter's second birthday.
We are immensely grateful for the love and support from our family and friends who have helped (and continue to help) along the way. We found the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network to be a great resource and would like to help other families who are suffering from this heartbreaking disease. Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all major cancers, at just 10%. I’ve stepped up to Wage Hope at PurpleStride, the walk to end pancreatic cancer. Every dollar that you give ensures that the PCAN can continue working to improve outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients.
Will you help me rewrite the future of this disease by joining me for this walk?