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Pancreatic cancer patient celebrated awareness month by being cancer-free

In September 2020, Steve Young noticed a weird feeling in his stomach over the course of a few days. He wasn’t alarmed because he had been healthy all his life, never missing a day of work in 17 of his 20 years at the Honda plant in Lincoln.

But the stomach pain worsened. Young attributed it to ulcers from stress over the death of a family member, but he had also noticed other health abnormalities.

He went to the UAB Medicine freestanding emergency department in Gardendale. After initial tests, Young thought he was receiving an unusual amount of concern from nurses and doctors.

“I could definitely tell there was more to this stomach ache than I originally thought,” Young said. “I was sure at that point that it was no longer an ulcer. Everyone around me was extremely nice, but I could tell that there was something wrong.”

His fears were confirmed when he was admitted to UAB Hospital shortly after his test and heard his diagnosis: pancreatic cancer. The cancer was thought to be stage 3, borderline stage 4, a grim prognosis that brought a life expectancy of 12-15 months.

“Thank goodness I had a stomach ache to signal to me that something was up,” Young said.

His first CT scans showed the cancer had not spread to other organs. The next three months, Young received chemotherapy at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center. The cancer was contained and surgery was planned to remove the tumor from Young’s pancreas.

Young’s friends celebrated by planning a fishing trip and hiring a guide for him and his daughter.

“My daughter actually caught an 18-pound catfish on that trip,” Young said of the trip to Tennessee. “My friends were so nice to think of me and to plan that. It was such a great trip, and I just knew that it could not be my last.”

Dr. Bart Rose removed part of Young’s pancreas, bile duct, gallbladder and a 1-foot section of small intestines during a 12-hour surgery. Following surgery, Young was able to celebrate Pancreatic Cancer Month in November as a patient who has overcome the deadly disease.

“I can’t even begin to thank Dr. Rose enough. To be honest, I don’t even have the words to describe how thankful I am to him and his entire team,” Young said. “He encouraged me the whole way through the process and gave me so much hope. That is the important part of cancer – holding on to your hope.”

Rose was inspired by Young’s outcome.

“Mr. Young is a great patient and had the absolute best outcome that we could have hoped for,” Rose said. “He recovered amazingly after surgery, and I suspect that he will do well during his final rounds of chemotherapy completing his planned cancer treatment. Mr. Young’s outcome for pancreatic cancer is one that everyone hopes for.”

Young is grateful for many things.

“God makes miracles, and I am one of them,” Young said. “I think it’s time to plan another fishing trip with my daughter.”

This story originally appeared on the UAB News website.