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An Amazing Inspirational Story
Written By Debra Gelbart
October 20, 2019
Diagnosed: June, 2018
Status Update: Presently No Sign of Active Cancer
Craig Hellmers’ life changed its trajectory on the night before Father’s Day in 2018. A healthy, energetic pilot based in Florida for a commercial airline, Craig suddenly started experiencing stomach pain and noticed a yellowish cast to his eyes. The next day, on Father’s Day, an urgent care center in Fort Lauderdale recommended he go to a hospital emergency department.
He was diagnosed with a mass in his small intestine and later, his doctors told him he had stage 1 cancer of the pancreas. In mid-July of 2018, he underwent a Whipple procedure. He tolerated the surgery well but began to experience complications after being discharged from the Florida hospital just three and a half days later. The next day (four and a half days after the surgery), he was admitted to the ICU. He lapsed into a coma and didn’t wake up until mid- August.
A New Life Begins
Craig and the love of his life, Tricia, had been together for six years before that, but hadn’t been in a hurry to marry. But when Craig woke up from his coma, “I realized the person taking care of me every day, was Tricia,” he said. “I wasn’t healthy and yet, she was still by my side. That’s when I knew what true love is and that’s when I knew I wanted to marry her.”
On September 11, 2018 with Craig still in his hospital bed, the couple exchanged wedding vows.
When Craig was discharged from the hospital again, he learned that he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer and he started researching possible treatments. A friend in Phoenix wanted him to connect with HonorHealth Research Institute in Scottsdale where several clinical trials for pancreatic cancer are being administered. Craig qualified for the study, called the Trial of Ascorbic Acid (AA) + Nanoparticle Paclitaxel Protein Bound + Cisplatin + Gemcitabine.
Spectacularly Encouraging Initial Results, Ongoing Good News
After being on the chemotherapy-plus-ascorbic-acid (also known as Vitamin C) protocol for nine weeks, a CT scan showed that Craig’s tumors had shrunk by as much as 50 percent.
Today, after completing nine months of chemotherapy, Craig is showing no signs of active cancer. “My scans have been excellent,” Craig said. “I’m now on a maintenance plan of oral medication. The five- year average survival rate for this terrible disease is 9 percent, so why can’t I be part of the 9 percent? I’m grateful to HonorHealth Research Institute and Seena Magowitz Foundation for giving patients like me hope in beating this awful disease.