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Her Decision To Seek A Second Opinion Likely Saved Her Life
Written By Julia Brabant
Diagnosed: December, 2020
Current Status: Undergoing maintenance therapy
Jodi Pratt’s Persistence Led to an Early Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis
Regretfully, Jodi Pratt lost her battle with pancreatic cancer in August 2022.
The following was her Warrior Story.
When identified early, pancreatic cancer is easier to treat – and in some cases, even curable. Yet, because so many pancreatic cancer symptoms fail to show themselves until the cancer has progressed, only a small percentage of patients receive early diagnoses. Jodi Pratt is one of them, and her decision to seek prompt care – and her refusal to accept her initial doctors’ dismissal of her symptoms – are among the reasons she was diagnosed at Stage 1.
A native of Ohio, Jodi was working in the food industry when she began experiencing abdominal distress and flu-like symptoms. She went to her doctor, who figured she was suffering from indigestion and a bad cold. The doctor told her to wear a mask on the job for the time being, but her employer, pre-COVID-19, said she couldn’t do so because it wouldn’t make the right impression with guests. This led to a two-week vacation, and Jodi decided to spend it in Arizona, where her sister lived.
The COVID-19 pandemic began soon after Jodi traveled to Arizona. Jodi’s symptoms started worsening, with constant nausea, a lack of appetite and an ongoing feeling of fullness among them. Convinced she was dealing with something more than indigestion, she sought treatment again over the Thanksgiving holiday at an Arizona hospital. Doctors suspected pancreatitis and sent her home.
By Christmas, her symptoms had yet to subside. Her niece saw yellowing in her eyes and knew it was jaundice, which is sometimes the result of an obstruction in the bile duct. Jodi checked in at HonorHealth Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center for scans.
Jodi continued chemotherapy treatments until August, when she began undergoing radiation. After five weeks of radiation, Jodi’s scans showed promise and no sign of cancer spreading. As a preventative measure, Dr. Borazanci proposed she continue chemotherapy every other week for the time being as a form of maintenance therapy.
Like many patients, Jodi decided to have genetic testing done to see if she had any genetic markers that could indicate a predisposition to cancer. This information could be useful for blood relatives who may carry the same genetic markers. She had family members who had had breast, colon and prostate cancer, but she was the first in the family to receive a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Genetic tests revealed no obvious concerns she needed to share with her loved ones.
Now, as Jodi prepares to begin maintenance therapy, she’s learning to live with minor dietary changes, and she finds it difficult not being able to work or exercise like she did before her diagnosis. She has also had to adjust to living further away from some loved ones, including her daughter, Kylie, who is back in Ohio planning a wedding and pursuing a Master’s degree at Ohio State University.
Jodi did get a chance to see her mother and father who came out to Arizona to bring Jodi her dog, Nellie, shortly before her mother passed during the same visit. Yet, despite this monumental loss and the other hardships Jodi encountered along the way, she feels gratitude. She knows how lucky she is not only to receive an early diagnosis, but to also have the love and support her sister and other loved ones have given her along the way.
Jodi’s decisions to seek second opinions and not allow doctors to dismiss her concerns or symptoms helped lead to the early detection of her pancreatic cancer.
Common symptoms of pancreatic cancer include back pain, belly pain, weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, jaundice and recent-onset diabetes, among others. For many patients, jaundice is among the first symptoms experienced. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should visit their physicians promptly for further review, regardless of how minor the symptoms might initially seem.