Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Vincent Brasseur, Ignacio M. Llorente

Related Topics: Cloud Expo

Cloud Expo: Blog Feed Post

One Year and Counting...

A blog post to mark the 365th day of survival since being operated on for pancreatic cancer

It isn't very often - no, wait, it is completely unique, having never happened before - that I write to each and every one of my LinkedIn contacts simultaneously. But as the proverb goes, "circumstances alter cases."

The "circumstance" that causes me to risk Web-wide ire at my misuse and abuse of Reid Hoffman's gallantly unspoiled business tool is the arrival of the 365th day of survival since being operated on for pancreatic cancer. One entire year! Never has a year taken so long, never have 365 days seemed more like 1,365. But a year it is, and given the givens it deserves to be marked in some way. This is my way.

Worry not, I am not going to hit you up for money. (Even though the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network could most certainly always use it.) I am not even going to hit you up for emotion.

Nope. Far worse than that, I am going to hit you up - briefly - for attention. Because, to be brutally blunt, it isn't at all clear what kind of timeline anyone lives on once pancreatic cancer rears its ugly head; and so my resolution today is to make hay while I can - or, as the Hindus apparently put it, to turn the mill while there is still sugarcane.


The chances are that you will know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, perhaps even with pancreatic cancer. If so then, like my wife and children the day I was diagnosed in a hospital in faraway Sarajevo (pictured below), you probably headed straight to Google...and were startled by what you found.

Koševo Hospital, the university hospital of Sarajevo in Bosnia

Few diseases, I suspect, return search results quite as gloomy as pancreatic cancer. A typical one is as follows:

Pancreatic cancer has a dismal survival rate...


or this

overall survival is dismal - 20 percent after one year and only 4 percent after five years


I mean, I am no statistician, and neither were any of my four kids, but these "survival rate" stats read, back then, less like a glimpse of hope and more like a death sentence.

But then when the heck did anyone ever rely on statistics, right? Besides, what matters is how early the tumor is found (earlier = smaller = better), whether it is deemed to be operable, and how well the surgery goes. There don't seem to be any stats for those lucky enough to have undergone a Whipple operation - the life-saving, if radical, surgical procedure that, 365 days ago today, was how I spent my morning.

I have already written briefly about the experience of being both diagnosed with the deadliest of all the cancers and spared/saved from it all within the space of three weeks. I had a stab, too, at trying to sum up what it is like, after the Whipple, to be prescribed follow-up chemotherapy for seven long months. None of these posts was very well written, but the intent was just to share an experience, in case might help provide some kind of insight either to those who had worse luck than mine, perhaps even to those who fared better in similar circumstances...and most especially to the rest of you who have been lucky enough not to one day, just three months after completing your third New York Marathon, be told completely out of the blue that you've got the deadliest of all the cancers. Remember to say a brief 'thank you' tonight in your prayers!

Here's how it went down 365 days ago in Copenhagen University Hospital (Rigshospitalet), which is where I had the Whipple procedure - in which, as one fellow pancreatic survivor recently put it, "Everything around the pancreas that can be removed, cut, whacked, chopped, is."

Rigshospitalet, the university hospital of Copenhagen in Denmark

Reassured by the fact that around thirty of these operations are performed each year by this same team of surgeons, I remember one year ago today smiling first at my wife, who was right there beside me as they prepped me for the op, then at the anesthetist whose job it was to put me under...and saying a private little prayer in my head, before oblivion took over.

There's something curiously daunting about going to sleep in full possession of your innards, but with the certain prospect of waking up with your inventory of bodily organs severely depleted.

The lion's share of my pancreas, all of my gall bladder, a goodly portion of my stomach, and an assortment of small-intestine-removal later...I did indeed wake up. And what a relief it was to find that 1. I was alive and kicking and 2. that I was in no kind of pain - just "downsized" internally. In fact I was now significantly less complicated under the hood!

Departments of Surgical Gastroenterology are probably not famous for being fun places to hang out, but if you have to for one reason or another - including this Whipple operation, which is one of the most complicated they do - I can certainly recommend the incredible team at Copenhagen's Rigshospital.

Recovery from a Whipple is an especially brutal process because the basic trick is to do it just as fast as humanly possible, getting back onto one's feet almost immediately, even if only to stand up. Other tricks include repeatedly saturating one's system with oxygen via special breathing exercises that have been shown to speed up the post-operative healing process...even though the last thing you instinctively want to do, when your midriff has been more or less sliced into two, is to breathe deeply. (Trust me on this!)

365 Days Ago Today - midriff complete with mid-rift!

Whipple patients typically lose 10% of their body weight in the pre- and post-operative period. It has taken an entire year to put even half of that back on! You might think that it every teenage schoolgirl's dream, but I am no teenage schoolgirl and I can tell you, nothing is stranger than finding that none of the things you ate before are going to help you put weight back on...and that instead you have to become a fat-chaser, a scavenger on the lookout for calories wherever you can find them.

I failed miserably, for at least the first three months. Putting butter on my bread, ignoring most vegetables as having insufficient protein for the amount of room they took up in my tummy, these sorts of changes seem simple - but they are not! I adore, sorry past tense, I adored, salads. But lettuce leaves and spinach leaves and suchlike are a thing of the past, once the part of the pancreas that produces enzymes is tossed into the surgical waste-bin. Because there's nothing to help digest them...which means basically that they get stuck, and it is excruciatingly painful as well as deeply frustrating.

The pancreas is of course where your insulin is manufactured too. The after-effects of Whipple surgery differ according to how much or how little of the pancreas is left by the surgeons, but in my case all I can say is, though incredibly lucky to be left with at least a bit of it, the process of eating say an orange or a banana seems to have been undermined forever. (Guess what my two absolute favorite fruits were? I guess one should never take ANYTHING for granted. I wonder how many bananas and oranges I scoffed over the years without ever really giving it a thought; whereas now, those two tastes are almost foreign to me, I can hardly remember either of them.)

Worries over dietary changes and internal rearrangements were pushed firmly onto the back burner the day, on the very point of leaving hospital and being declared a resounding success from a surgical point of view, I was told that seven months of chemotherapy was going to be needed too. Belt and suspenders. Pancreatic cancer is like the worst kind of serial killer, and no one was intending for me to take any chances.

So I had survived the disease. Now all I needed was to survive the cure!

As I say, I already wrote about what it's like, after the Whipple, to be prescribed follow-up chemotherapy for seven long months. That was at the mid-way point. Since my 189 days of chemo ended, my overall health seems from the outside enviable - and probably is, at least to almost everyone but me, who feels it has been disappointingly slow, unexpectedly erratic, and very little different from during chemo itself. Energy levels remain fluctuating rather than steady, sleep patterns likewise, and concentration is a word that seems almost to have tumbled out of my dictionary for good.

The ugly question naturally reared itself: if the Whipple surgery went so well (and it did, the surgeons were 100% adamant about that), why wasn't I by now back to Marathon form, both professionally and personally? And the answer will come shortly...courtesy of the bloodwork and the scanning techniques that Rigshospital once again is bringing to bear on this onetime athlete's body of mine. Cross your fingers; certainly I am crossing mine on this anniversary of anniversaries. One thing is sure: it isn't for want of trying - I have been trying once more to use running as my health barometer, and really have tried again and again and again to get back my running Mojo - just as, professionally, I have sought to regain my Cloud Mojo.

But it appears that convalescence is not only a question of mind over matter. Sometimes one needs "a little help from one's friends" - including, in this case, from Copenhagen University Hospital's brilliant oncologists - who understand the nuances of X-ray computed tomography!

Once they've advised me how best to proceed from here, I shall let you know (more succinctly next time, I promise!) how the future trajectory is looking. Hopefully the current little setback will be put into context and the overall prognosis will turn out to be simply Cloudtastic ;-)

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happe...
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective ...
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrateg...
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water,...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
When an enterprise builds a hybrid IaaS cloud connecting its data center to one or more public clouds, security is often a major topic along with the other challenges involved. Security is closely intertwined with the networking choices made for the hybrid cloud. Traditional networking approaches for building a hybrid cloud try to kludge together the enterprise infrastructure with the public cloud. Consequently this approach requires risky, deep "surgery" including changes to firewalls, subnets...
DevOps is all about agility. However, you don't want to be on a high-speed bus to nowhere. The right DevOps approach controls velocity with a tight feedback loop that not only consists of operational data but also incorporates business context. With a business context in the decision making, the right business priorities are incorporated, which results in a higher value creation. In his session at DevOps Summit, Todd Rader, Solutions Architect at AppDynamics, discussed key monitoring techniques...
Want to enable self-service provisioning of application environments in minutes that mirror production? Can you automatically provide rich data with code-level detail back to the developers when issues occur in production? In his session at DevOps Summit, David Tesar, Microsoft Technical Evangelist on Microsoft Azure and DevOps, will discuss how to accomplish this and more utilizing technologies such as Microsoft Azure, Visual Studio online, and Application Insights in this demo-heavy session.
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device exp...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect...
High-performing enterprise Software Quality Assurance (SQA) teams validate systems that are ready for use - getting most actively involved as components integrate and form complete systems. These teams catch and report on defects, making sure the customer gets the best software possible. SQA teams have leveraged automation and virtualization to execute more thorough testing in less time - bringing Dev and Ops together, ensuring production readiness. Does the emergence of DevOps mean the end of E...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using ...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series dat...
"Verizon offers public cloud, virtual private cloud as well as private cloud on-premises - many different alternatives. Verizon's deep knowledge in applications and the fact that we are responsible for applications that make call outs to other systems. Those systems and those resources may not be in Verizon Cloud, we understand at the end of the day it's going to be federated," explained Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing at Verizon Enterprise, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at...
"For the past 4 years we have been working mainly to export. For the last 3 or 4 years the main market was Russia. In the past year we have been working to expand our footprint in Europe and the United States," explained Andris Gailitis, CEO of DEAC, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. Acco...
The term culture has had a polarizing effect among DevOps supporters. Some propose that culture change is critical for success with DevOps, but are remiss to define culture. Some talk about a DevOps culture but then reference activities that could lead to culture change and there are those that talk about culture change as a set of behaviors that need to be adopted by those in IT. There is no question that businesses successful in adopting a DevOps mindset have seen departmental culture change, ...
"Cloud consumption is something we envision at Solgenia. That is trying to let the cloud spread to the user as a consumption, as utility computing. We want to allow the people to just pay for what they use, not a subscription model," explained Ermanno Bonifazi, CEO & Founder of Solgenia, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps,...