DR. JILL PECHACEK: LEGACY HERO
She Was Defined By Relentless Optimism, Inspiration and Compassion
It is with deep sadness to announce that Dr. Jill Pechacek passed away in January, 2018 after a 40-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Jill will be cherished forever.
Following Was Her Story:
Originally Written By Debra Gelbart
WITH DEEP SADNESS DR. JILL PECHACEK PASSED AWAY IN JANUARY 2018 AFTER A 40 MONTH BATTLE WITH PANCREATIC CANCER.
JILL WILL BE CHERISHED FOREVER. THIS WAS HER STORY.
Jill was a family medicine physician with enormous compassion for her patients. In part because she was a multiple cancer warrior. Dr. Jill survived a bout with ovarian cancer when she was just 25. About 21 years later she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September, 2014.
Life Interrupted, But Not Slowed
Her determination to make life better was emblematic of Dr. Jill’s ebulliently positive outlook, despite facing enough challenges for multiple lifetimes. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, just before her last semester of medical school.
“That was my first time being a patient with a serious condition,” she said during an interview in 2017. She said she didn’t have any doubt she was going to defeat ovarian cancer. She did just that and went on to have three children: sons Hawk and Brooks and daughter Hope, who are now teenagers.
Eight years after the birth of her youngest child Hope, Dr. Jill never thought she’d soon be experiencing another bout of cancer. But in September of 2014, pain in her stomach wouldn’t let up. She thought it was either an ulcer or pancreatitis, but received the devastating news that she had stage 4 pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to her liver.
This time it was tougher for her to stay positive. “My survival isn’t about just me, it’s about my kids,” she said.
Never Giving In
With boundless determination, she traveled to six different cancer-care institutions around the country in search of optimal treatments, though she was already receiving regular infusions of Folfirinox, a cocktail of chemotherapy drugs.“Those were really hard, dark days,” she said, “all consults estimated I had only about six months to live.”
She flew to Arizona about every eight weeks to be seen by Dr. Von Hoff and by Dr. Erkut Borazanci, an oncologist and clinical investigator at HonorHealth Research Institute.
Life Lessons Shared With Others
What she gleaned from a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, she said, “you can’t hold resentment in your heart. So many amazing things come out of challenging times, and life is all about dee3pening relationships and all of the new people that God brings into your life.
She has undergone separate surgeries to have her pancreas removed and two-thirds of her liver removed. Her scan in August 2017 showed no evidence of the disease, but because of significant side effects from having chemotherapy every week for almost three years, she isn’t practicing medicine anymore.
Dr.Jill knows that her cancer could return, and she is prepared for that. “I’m not just on Plan B, I’m on Plan H by now,” she says lightheartedly. ” I tell my kids it’s a good thing there are 26 letters in the alphabet.”
Having spoken at the 2017 Annual Seena Magowitz Foundation Golf Classic in 2017, she felt guided by wisdom from several sources, including Verse 31:25 from the Book of Proverbs that says, “She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.” She remained determined “to do whatever it takes to be here because I’m extremely motivated and confident in my future.” She urged those in her audience to “let your faith be bigger than your fear” and underscored that “God has a plan for you.”
The effervescent Dr. Jill Pechacek passed away about 6 months later in January of 2018. She will always remain an inspirational and cherished legacy.