Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Mano Marks, Rajesh Ramchandani, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: @CloudExpo

@CloudExpo: 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
Due of the rise of Hadoop, many enterprises are now deploying their first small clusters of 10 to 20 servers. At this small scale, the complexity of operating the cluster looks and feels like general data center servers. It is not until the clusters scale, as they inevitably do, when the pain caused by the exponential complexity becomes apparent. We've seen this problem occur time and time again. In his session at Big Data Expo, Greg Bruno, Vice President of Engineering and co-founder of StackIQ...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
Security, data privacy, reliability, and regulatory compliance are critical factors when evaluating whether to move business applications from in-house, client-hosted environments to a cloud platform. Quality assurance plays a vital role in ensuring that the appropriate level of risk assessment, verification, and validation takes place to ensure business continuity during the migration to a new cloud platform.
"Tintri was started in 2008 with the express purpose of building a storage appliance that is ideal for virtualized environments. We support a lot of different hypervisor platforms from VMware to OpenStack to Hyper-V," explained Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and containers together help companies achieve their business goals faster and more effectively. In his session at DevOps Summit, Ruslan Synytsky, CEO and Co-founder of Jelastic, reviewed the current landscape of Dev...
One of the hottest areas in cloud right now is DRaaS and related offerings. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Dale Levesque, Disaster Recovery Product Manager with Windstream's Cloud and Data Center Marketing team, will discuss the benefits of the cloud model, which far outweigh the traditional approach, and how enterprises need to ensure that their needs are properly being met.
The security needs of IoT environments require a strong, proven approach to maintain security, trust and privacy in their ecosystem. Assurance and protection of device identity, secure data encryption and authentication are the key security challenges organizations are trying to address when integrating IoT devices. This holds true for IoT applications in a wide range of industries, for example, healthcare, consumer devices, and manufacturing. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lancen LaChance, vic...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
In their general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Michael Piccininni, Global Account Manager - Cloud SP at EMC Corporation, and Mike Dietze, Regional Director at Windstream Hosted Solutions, reviewed next generation cloud services, including the Windstream-EMC Tier Storage solutions, and discussed how to increase efficiencies, improve service delivery and enhance corporate cloud solution development. Michael Piccininni is Global Account Manager – Cloud SP at EMC Corporation. He has been engaged in t...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus o...
Big Data engines are powering a lot of service businesses right now. Data is collected from users from wearable technologies, web behaviors, purchase behavior as well as several arbitrary data points we’d never think of. The demand for faster and bigger engines to crunch and serve up the data to services is growing exponentially. You see a LOT of correlation between “Cloud” and “Big Data” but on Big Data and “Hybrid,” where hybrid hosting is the sanest approach to the Big Data Infrastructure pro...
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at Logz.io, will explore the value of Kibana 4 for log analysis and will give a real live, hands-on tutorial on how to set up Kibana 4 and get the most out of Apache log files. He will examine three use cases: IT operations, business intelligence, and security and compliance. This is a hands-on session that will require participants to bring their own laptops, and we will provide the rest.
"We're bringing out a new application monitoring system to the DevOps space. It manages large enterprise applications that are distributed throughout a node in many enterprises and we manage them as one collective," explained Kevin Barnes, President of eCube Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud enviro...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud taking place June 6-8, 2017, at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long developm...
A look across the tech landscape at the disruptive technologies that are increasing in prominence and speculate as to which will be most impactful for communications – namely, AI and Cloud Computing. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Curtis Peterson, VP of Operations at RingCentral, will highlight the current challenges of these transformative technologies and share strategies for preparing your organization for these changes. This “view from the top” will outline the latest trends and developm...
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...