David's story

Survival and Support


I am a survivor. I survived the Holocaust. Then, I survived a brain tumor. And then I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when I was 72 years old.

In December 2009, I was traveling to visit my son in California when I began experiencing awful back pain that was accompanied by digestive issues and stomach pains. When I returned home, I made an appointment to see my gastroenterologist who ran many tests and was not satisfied with the findings. He recommended that I see a specialist at a hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, who performed an endoscopy which showed that I had pancreatic cancer.

When I learned that I had pancreatic cancer, I was devastated. My wife had an aunt who passed away from the disease, but otherwise I had no connection. Fortunately, my daughter is a genetic counselor in New York City and was able to recommend an oncologist at the hospital who suggested that I participate in a clinical trial. I agreed and started chemotherapy treatments before undergoing a Whipple procedure. The procedure was successful, and as part of the clinical trial, I went through another round of chemotherapy and was followed by routine scans every couple of months thereafter.

Returning to a Trusted Hospital

In 2018, I celebrated being a 9-year pancreatic cancer survivor. Now, I am monitored on a yearly basis through CT scans and MRI’s. My most recent scan continued to show no evidence of disease.

I am grateful that my gastroenterologist was thorough and was able to diagnose the disease when it was in an early stage and operable. I am also thankful to the incredible team of doctors that I saw in New York City—starting when I had my brain tumor removed 25 years earlier and later when I underwent the Whipple procedure at the same hospital.

My diagnosis reinforced how precious life is. I’ve been fortunate in my lifetime to be a survivor of many things and I’m very thankful to have had the support of my family through it all.

Be Confident in Your Team

If I could offer any advice to a newly diagnosed patient, I would advise them to see a reputable doctor in a hospital setting that they have confidence in. A pancreatic cancer diagnosis can be difficult to digest, but I am glad that we were aware of the Lustgarten Foundation, an organization doing an incredible job on the research front and keeping patients informed of new developments. I am proud to be part of the Lustgarten family and participate in their walks to offer hope to other patients, survivors and their loved ones.

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