Don S.

Don's story

"While an implanted pump is a commitment, I was willing to make it after reading the clinical papers on the benefits the pump can provide."

Individual results may vary. Talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of the therapy and to find out if the 3000 HAI Pump is right for you.

Don's story

Diagnosis: Stage 4 colorectal cancer liver metastases
Age at diagnosis: 55

When visitors to Don’s home ask about the large, fully decorated Christmas tree behind his desk – which is up 12 months of the year – it’s an opportunity for Don to talk about his pump. According to Don, his wife loves everything about Christmas, looks forward to putting up the decorations every year, and is sad to see them go back into boxes. After his cancer diagnosis in 2016, they decided to keep Christmas around permanently in the form of a decorated tree in their living room. It’s their symbol of hope and everyday joy.

In May of 2016 after a routine colonoscopy, Don’s GI doctor gave him the difficult news: he had stage 2 colorectal cancer. Although the doctor removed the polyps he found, Don would need follow-up surgery to have half his colon removed.

Post-surgery evaluation brought the welcome news that nothing penetrated the colon wall, and all his lymph nodes were negative. Chemotherapy was not discussed or suggested, but something nagged Don. He’d seen some small spots on one of his scans, and though his oncologist, radiologist, and surgeons all said they were benign, he’d read that the chances for recurrence for his type of cancer were high. He pushed for a follow-up scan earlier than was recommended.

Don’s fears were justified. The scan revealed that all the spots on his liver had grown, and he was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer with liver metastases and told he had a 40% chance of surviving 12 months. Don’s response to the devastating news was to dive into researching how he might improve his odds. He investigated treatment options, survival odds, recurrence rates, the best hospitals, and clinical trials – anything that would give him a chance. The treatment that kept coming up was Hepatic Artery Infusion (HAI) therapy. The data point that stuck with him most was that with HAI therapy, patients were seeing a 50% chance of five-year survival.

Don gathered up his scans and records and went to meet doctors who perform pump implants. After assessing Don’s disease, they agreed that an HAI pump was an appropriate therapy for him. The following week, he had simultaneous liver resection and pump implantation.

After Don recovered from the surgery, his oncologist used the pump for follow-up therapy for several months. He’s had no evidence of disease since 2017. Today, in addition to selling real estate, Don spends time organizing an online support group for people with stage 4 colorectal cancer with liver metastases where he shares information about clinical findings and his personal experience with the pump.

Don enjoys feeding birds and riding his bike, and the Christmas decorations remain in his living room now as a symbol of both hope and success.


Q: What is it like to live with the pump?
The limitations on activities such as skydiving and deep-sea scuba diving don’t impact my life. My daily life has no limitations. While the pump doesn’t show visibly on me, I do find it’s sometimes more comfortable to sleep on the side opposite from where the pump is placed.
Q: What about the refill process?
The refill portion of my oncology center visit is very quick. Many of the patients receiving chemo there have HAI pumps so the nurses perform refills a dozen times a day. It takes from five to 10 minutes to access, empty, and refill the pump. By contrast, systemic chemotherapy takes much longer.
Q: What would you tell someone with a similar diagnosis about your experience?
As a moderator of our support group for cancer patients and their families, I encourage them to join online patient groups, read, and ask questions about living with the pump. The pump community is very supportive and ready to share. I sometimes spend five or six hours with new patients one-on-one. It’s a very personal decision, so I try to give them as much information as possible.

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