Patient finds leading-edge pancreatic cancer treatment

In 2017, Janet B. went to pick up her mother from a Scottsdale group home one day when the owner of the home, someone she trusted, looked at Janet and wondered why her skin looked so yellow.

“Neon,” as Janet’s primary care physician would later comment, a jaundiced condition brought on, in her case, by an excess of a digestive fluid called bilirubin, which resulted from a blockage in her bile duct.

Looking back, Janet, now 76, was grateful for her jaundice, since it prompted a medical evaluation that eventually resulted in her being diagnosed earlier than she otherwise would have been with pancreatic cancer, one of the most aggressive and deadly of all cancers.

HonorHealth patient Janet Bor

Receiving treatment through a clinical trial

Fortunately, Janet’s cancer was detected in its early stages and was successfully treated with a unique combination of drugs through a clinical trial at the HonorHealth Research Institute. Upon completion of her drug treatment, her entire pancreas was surgically removed, and Janet has now been cancer-free for more than six years.

“Oh my God, it’s fabulous,” she says, knowing how lucky she was to have had the cancer detected before it metastasized and spread to other organs.

And Janet can’t say enough about the care she received, especially from Erkut Borazanci, MD, an oncologist and medical director of the Institute’s Cancer Research Division. After her diagnosis, Dr. Borazanci put her on an experimental combination therapy that included the standard-of-care drugs gemcitabine and Abraxane, plus a form of platinum called cisplatin, with an added twist: mega doses of vitamin D called paricalcitol.

“The thing that I loved the most about Dr. B, he spoke in English, not ‘medicalese,’” explains Janet.

She remained on the four-drug cocktail for four months, shrinking the tumor before her surgery in January 2018. Once her cancer-ladened pancreas was removed, her tumor-marker numbers — a measure of certain proteins in her blood — fell from 100, down to just 19.

“His whole thing was about prolonging quality of life,” she says of Dr. Borazanci. “And, I can’t say enough about the team at the Institute. It was just mind-blowing. They understand what the patient experience is. They’re an unbelievably coordinated team. It was a joy to go there.”

Living life to the fullest

Janet now describes herself as a survivor, warrior and advocate, working with the non-profit pancreatic cancer philanthropy group known as the Seena Magowitz Foundation, where Janet volunteers to support other pancreatic cancer patients.

These days, she visits the Institute just once a year for her annual checkup. Janet takes every opportunity to urge other pancreatic cancer patients to consider asking for a second opinion, researching the latest in clinical trials and enrolling in clinical trials, if possible.

“The Institute is such a jewel,” shares Janet, though she sometimes feels it is the best kept secret in pancreatic cancer research and treatment. “The Institute and its team offer hope to patients and families who are given this devastating diagnosis.”

Clinical trials available for cancer patients

As a leader in clinical research, HonorHealth’s program gives you access to clinical trials from phase I to phase IV, with a special focus on early drug development. A trial is an option at any stage of your cancer journey.

Explore cancer clinical trials