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Passionate Fighter Against Pancreatic Cancer

Written By Debra Gelbart
October 2019

Diagnosed: Late 2007
Status: No Sign of Active Cancer

Making A Difference Over Twelve Years Later

Stan Vitikas of Chandler, Arizona has always had an analytical mind, and may have contributed to his being a 12-year survivor of pancreatic cancer as of October, 2019. He reads everything he can about a subject he’s interested in. He advocates continually for a cause he passionately believes in.

The Defining Moments

In March 2008, Stan was told he had a small mass in his pancreas. He had a biopsy that indicated the mass was “suspicious” for adenocarcinoma. He was scheduled for the Whipple procedure in May of that year. “It’s hard to submit to a Whipple when they’re not certain you have cancer, but you also know the risk of waiting,” he said. By that time, he had spent “literally thousands of hours reading about pancreatic cancer” and was comfortable that he was taking the correct next step.

His surgeon removed a two-centimeter tumor that was identified as a Stage 1, Grade 3 adenocarcinoma. “The fight was on,” Stan said. Doctors aren’t sure why Stan was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer but it may have arisen from chronic pancreatitis.

After he had surgery, he underwent six months of chemotherapy and 30 days of radiation therapy. Stan attributes his survival to his surgeon at the Mayo Clinic, Adyr Moss, M.D. “He’s a brilliant doctor—beyond capable and physically skilled,” Stan said. “He told me he was confident he had removed every bit of the cancer. He told me, ‘You’re gonna live to be 80 and die from something else.’ That gave me the hope I needed.”

Four years later, Stan began experiencing complications related to residual scarring, resulting in several bouts of acute pancreatitis. He underwent a second Whipple procedure in January 2013. “That was really hard to face, but I was mostly pain-free for another five years.”

In 2018 several bouts of pancreatitis resurfaced, and by February 2019 he was hospitalized again with severe pancreatitis due to another blockage and surgery wasn’t an alternative. Mayo endoscopist Norio Fukami, M.D. dilated the stricture and inserted multiple stents via a complex procedure through the stomach. “It’s been a journey,” Stan said, “but once again I was fortunate to have access to the skills of a world-class doctor.”

A Bright Future

Stan is a long-time advocate for fighting pancreatic cancer. He previously volunteered with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, lobbying for congressional funding and sharing his story. He also is a patient liaison volunteer, offering emotional support to newly diagnosed pancreatic cancer patients. “I want to share my success story because hope is the most important thing when you’re facing this diagnosis.”

Stan became an advocate and fundraiser for the Seena Magowitz Foundation after he was moved by Roger Magowitz’s call to action: “If not me, then who?” Stan said he’s “been lucky enough to survive, so if not me, then who could I ask to step up and raise money for this cause?” Through the 2018 Seena Magowitz Foundation’s Annual Golf Classic, Stan has now raised more than $100,000 for the Foundation by asking others to donate.

“What really impresses me is that Roger personally calls every donor to thank them for their generosity; people really appreciate that and as a result they continue to donate annually, for which I am eternally grateful to all.”

Stan credits what he calls the “four Fs” for navigating the post-cancer journey: “faith, friends, family and fitness.” He is grateful for his faith and the support of family and good friends during a difficult time in his life. “I’m very lucky,” he said.

Cures Follow Money

Here’s what Stan says he’s learned in 10 years of advocacy:

Progress and cures follow money:

  • Polio eradicated through research funded by the March of Dimes campaign.
  • Breast cancer: 91% five-year survival rate today driven by billions of dollars in research funding.
  • HIV: now mostly a chronic, survivable disease due to massive U.S. government funding;
  • Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: survival rate grew from 4% to 90% today resulting from the efforts of Danny Thomas and the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“My hope is that countless others will continue to donate or help in any way possible. With your help, we can win this fight”

Vitikas’ generous donors include these compassionate people who have donate $500 or more to the Seena Magowitz Foundation through Stan’s ongoing efforts.

Todd AltmanBill Birtcil

Rick & Joanne Boggs

Paul & Tanya Brinsky

Curt Bruns

Michael & Laurie Buczek

Rob & Michele Cook

Mark Dellis

Sean Dowd

Dave & Paula Dunny

Ron Duranti

Stu Graber

Joe Grilli

Rick Grybos

Darryl JanisseBill & Kim Kroll

James & Helen Kukura

Eric Leta

Jay & Kristin Luse

Carolyn & Sam Luse

Joe Martin

Dean & Beth Meyer

John & Dawn Miranda

Tom Newcomer

Rich Nockels

Sherri & Mark Novad

Mary Olson

Roberto & Mary PerezAngelo & Mary Perri

Parrish & Stacey Pynn

Eric Rabbanian

Laurie Reinertsen

Robin & Brenda Renowden

Ian Roe

Steve & Carrin Rowe

Glen & Kathleen Ruhl

Jim & Helen Sandrolini

Paul Scholz

Jeff Van Norman

James White

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