Rick B.

Rick's story

"Doctors told me that my life was likely measured in weeks, not months. Four years later I have resumed my normal activities and spend time playing with my granddaughters and working on my golf swing."

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.

Rick's story

Diagnosis: Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma
Age at diagnosis: 62

Interview with an icon: Dr. Nancy Kemeny on HAI pumps

After successful cardiac surgery in March 2015, Rick developed pain in the area around his liver. An MRI revealed a mass, and Rick was diagnosed with bile duct cancer confined to his liver (intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma). His doctors recommended he start on aggressive systemic chemotherapy right away. For the next nine months he underwent six-hour chemotherapy sessions every two weeks to shrink the tumor with the goal of enabling liver resection. In December, his doctors told him that while the chemotherapy had stopped the tumor from spreading, there had been no reduction in its size. Rick needed to consider other options.

Rick was told surgery and long-term recovery were no longer options. Due to the inoperable nature of the tumors in his liver and the lack of success with a regimen of systemic chemotherapy, he considered radiation therapy. Uncertain that radiation therapy was the right treatment for him, Rick sought other opinions and alternatives. At a third consultation, Rick learned about a treatment called Hepatic Artery Infusion (HAI) therapy that could deliver concentrated chemotherapy to the tumors in his liver via a pump without toxicity to other areas of his body. He was initially concerned about having a pump implanted, but after talking with doctors who perform HAI therapy and implant the pump, he decided to move forward.

Rick had surgery to implant the pump in February of 2016 and received HAI therapy until the end of that year. Rick says, “After a year, my hair growth returned along with my energy and my overall outlook on life. I felt normal again for the first time in a couple of years, both physically and mentally.” In late December, Rick’s doctors told him he was ready for resection.

Rick has been able to get back to leading his normal pre-cancer life, spending time at his beach house, playing golf, traveling, and being with his granddaughters.

He is happy to share his story with anyone.

Q&A

Q: What is it like to live with the pump?
Today, I walk three to five miles and play golf, travel, and play with my granddaughters. I have normal energy for someone my age. I wear looser shirts now, but it’s a fashion tradeoff I’m happy to make.
Q: What’s the refill process like?
It’s painless compared to regular chemotherapy. It’s a little poke as the needle goes through the rubber access port, and I don’t even feel it coming out. The whole process takes less than 15 minutes. If they’re putting glycerin in the pump to extend the time between refills it can take a few more minutes. Then, a little band-aid and you’re done.
Q: How quickly could you resume normal activities after getting the pump?
Once the stitches were removed, I was back to walking again. I continued to exercise and immediately felt better. And with no six-hour [chemotherapy] sessions with bleeding and hot sweats, I really started feeling better. Before the pump, receiving systemic chemotherapy, I felt terrible. After the pump, it’s a different world – I started feeling normal again.
Q: What you tell someone with a similar diagnosis about your experience?
Once you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, I would strongly encourage them to seek multiple opinions, if possible. I was fortunate enough to have the resources and family support to travel and determine the best course of treatment. Most of the medical institutions at that time did not understand or know how to treat my cancer. It's come a long way. I also urge you to find support groups who can provide knowledge and assistance as patients and families go through the various stages of cancer treatment. I have found the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation and plan to be involved and assist wherever I can.

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