We will educate patients and empower them to ask for a second opinion.
In December 2013, 67 year old Ron Frolley was given some devastating news… he had weeks to live.
Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Ron’s only hope was surgery however after several scans and visits to specialists, the only way to remove the tumor was by cutting the portal vein – something Doctors were hesitant to do.
“I remember one surgeon telling me that I wouldn’t find anyone to do this particular surgery,” Ron recalls.
“He said the best thing for me to do was to go home and get my things in order because I didn’t have much longer than a few weeks to live.
“That, was a devastating moment.”
With the odds stacked against him, Ron turned to the internet for hope. After getting in touch with the Pancare Foundation he was encouraged to seek further medical opinions.
“I had already decided I wouldn’t accept they couldn’t do anything, but it was nice to know that Pancare supported my decision to try and find someone who would.”
After visiting four surgeons in total, Ron finally made the visit to his fifth surgeon in March 2014.
“By this stage I knew my time was really limited. I had already outlived the initial diagnosis given to me”.
Sitting in the waiting room with his partner of 32 years, Ron was overwhelmed with fear of what the fifth surgeon would say.
At this point, we were starting to break down and it was getting increasingly harder to stay positive.
But Ron’s dedication, determination and fight against a cancer that kills more Australians each year than breast or prostate, finally paid off. The fifth surgeon said he could do the surgery.
“We nearly burst into tears,” Ron explains.
“Until then I had felt like my life was being thrown away, finally it wasn’t just me that was determined to keep me alive.”
With a hectic schedule and surgeries booked in for months in advance, Ron’s next battle was to find a way for his surgeon to fit him in… quickly.
“With my life literally being narrowed down to days, I knew how important it was to have this surgery quickly, and so did my surgeon.
“It was coming up to a long weekend and my surgeon told me that his wife would kill him, but he would forego the public holiday in order to perform a 12 hour procedure on me.
“I now joke that I owe my life to my surgeon… and his wife!”
Eight weeks post-surgery, Ron is beginning to feel like his old self.
I was given only weeks to live at one stage, now we will see how it goes in five years.
“It’s important to me to share my experience because if I hadn’t had pushed for a second, third, fourth or even fifth opinion, I wouldn’t be here to tell my story at all.
“I often wonder how many pancreatic cancer patients might still be alive if they had known about their right to seek a second opinion.
“My goal now is to live long enough to see the mortality rates drop for pancreatic cancer”.
The Pancare Foundation is raising more than $6 million over the next three years in the fight against pancreatic, liver, biliary and foregut cancers.
Sadly Ron passed away in 2015.