Advanced and experienced hematology and cancer care.
Attitude is contagious. Is yours worth catching?

Bill & Susan’s Story

Bill and Susan remember the start: the moment of disbelief. Bill had been exceptionally healthy, with no sickness or medical conditions. He was perplexed when he had abnormal bowel functioning associated with constipation. The symptom of constipation is quite common in various minor or major medical conditions, and unfortunately there is no screening test or blood test to determine Pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer wasn’t on their radar at this point. He had a colonoscopy that appeared normal, then a CT scan was ordered.  The mass showed up on the scan, which prompted immediate action. His primary care doctor called on Friday, Jan 10, 2020, recalls his wife, Susan. She has a spectacular memory for important dates in Bill’s medical history and pays close attention to his symptoms. Bill’s doctor referred him to Dr. Favaro and was seen only a few days later to start cancer care. Bill was diagnosed with Stage III Locally Advanced Pancreatic cancer.  Within 11 days from meeting Dr. Favaro, Bill had scans, MRI, biopsy and had finished his first, three-day chemo session. “I’m going to beat it and I’m still here”, bellows Bill. Susan is sporting a t-shirt that has writing on it: Life is short, take the trip, buy the shoes, eat the cake. 

Bill and Susan are always on the go, doing things they love such as camping and hiking. They love the mountains, and can sometimes be found in Boone, visiting with their daughter who is in her Junior year at Appalachian State University.  Susan is a major motivator to keep Bill’s spirits up, as she is always enthusiastic to experience the beauty of the natural world. She strongly believes in the value of exercise and a good mindset and brings her positivity to Bill to push forward.  They will be celebrating their 30th wedding Anniversary this November.   

Bill’s diagnosis gave them a push to spend more quality time with each other in the outdoors. After he had chemo and surgery and was considered NED (no evidence of disease) for 15 months the couple traveled and found ways to find joy in the activities in their lives. With chemotherapy, it can be daunting to feel good enough to do much, but they always found a way to keep themselves uplifted. Bill said “I knew there was a 85% chance of recurrence.  Dr. Favaro is very proactive. If any of my family members were diagnosed with cancer, Dr. Favaro would be called upon. The staff is excellent, caring, and they treat you like family”.  

In Bill’s youth in the late 1970’s he was an athlete who played minor league baseball for the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals. He gave one of his minor league baseball cards to Dr. Favaro, his Primary Care Dr, and to his Oncology Surgeon. While he played as a pitcher, they used to have a designated batter; however, if the pitcher made it to the plate to bat, theteam would jokingly say, “Swing hard in case you hit the ball!”

Bill has been retired since a couple years before his diagnosis. He and Susan are both from the Northeast, but they didn’t meet each other until they moved down South. Bill used to work in sales management and train new salespeople.  Susan works from home as an Online Retailer since 2010.  Susan was a caregiver to her parents for more than a decade, and now she is Bill’s caregiver. Both continue to give back and help as much as they can with Bill’s parents despite the challenges and stresses that come with Pancreatic cancer. 

After two major surgeries, taking a large portion of his pancreas, and other cancer treatments such as chemo and radiation, Bill was diagnosed with diabetes and has had anemia. He received iron infusions to help combat the anemia and relies on insulin to manage the diabetes and enzymes for digestion.  He has a Dexcom sensor to keep a constant monitor on his sugar levels.  

Eating is a constant challenge for those with Pancreatic cancer. Bill drinks six Glucerna a day and he eats small meals throughout the day that are primarily soft, low carb foods.    

Bill said he keeps four things in mind for overall health and wellness, which are: eat good, exercise, have a desire to beat it, and you must keep God in your life.

Smile, be happy, be grateful – they have a lot to be grateful for and bring their outlook on life like a ray of sunlight into the lives of those close to them. Bill remembers a quote from his childhood “Attitude is contagious, is yours worth catching?”

Bill’s minor league baseball card, 1978
Susan & Bill hiking Shenandoah National Park in 2019, just prior to cancer diagnosis. “We were on top of the world”, said Susan.
Bill & Susan at Pisgah National Forest, at the summit of Max Patch in 2021 when Bill was NED.
Bill cooking while on a camping trip in Modoc, SC. This was in 2021 when he was NED. “Bill loves cooking while camping” said Susan.
Susan & Bill on the Appalachian Trail, Roan Mountain, TN. This was in 2021 when he was NED. 
Bill relaxing on a camping trip at the SC/GA border in 2021. They had their own private beach on the campsite.
Bill & Susan’s daughter, Maria. A junior in college at Appalachian State University.
Bill with his parents. His Mom was in an assisted living residence, and he would visit her 4 days a week. She passed away a few months ago.
Bill participated in a YMCA program for cancer survivors, Livestrong
Bill wearing his chemo pack while exercising!
Susan joined him at all visits. 
Christmas 2020, Bill rang the bell upon completing his last chemo regimen.
The couple with Bill’s oncologist, Dr. Favaro.
Bill & Susan, in shadow silhouette on the beach earlier this year, Kure Beach, NC.

By Adam Lingle | Posted in Patient Stories | Leave a comment

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Signup today for free and be the first to get notified on new updates.