Advocate Christ Medical Center is sending 61-year-old Mike Shrader and his wife Susan Shrader from Oak Lawn to the Chicago Bears game tomorrow. Mike and Susan will not only get to watch the Bears take on their rivals, the Green Bay Packers, but will be a part of the Bear Down flag unfurling ceremony that takes place on the field before the game.
For the first time in many years, the Chicago Bears are favored in the game by odds makers.
Mike, who is a Chicago Fireman and was a first responder in 2011 when the World Trade Center fell, was initially shocked to hear of his pancreatic cancer diagnosis in January of 2016. He says he had always been healthy and rarely ever got sick.
“I knew the statistics on pancreatic cancer were not good,” says Mike. “At first, I didn’t even want to consider treatment. I thought, why not just let nature take its course, but I wasn’t ready to die yet and my family wasn’t going to let me take a ‘do-nothing’ approach.”
Without treatment, Mike was given 16 weeks to live. Fortunately, surgery was an option for him and he was able to have a Whipple procedure completed by Dr. Marc Mesleh, a hepatobiliary surgeon at Advocate Christ on January 13, 2016. During a Whipple procedure, the head of the pancreas, part of the small intestine called the duodenum, the gallbladder, and the bile duct are removed.
Only five weeks after this operation, Mike was on vacation in St. Lucia and even did some snorkeling. Then, a week after his vacation, he started six months of chemotherapy and one month of radiation-proton therapy. He is now cancer free.
“I was told attitude has a huge effect on a cancer patient’s outcome. So, I live each day with a zest for life.”
Even while undergoing chemotherapy, Mike continued to golf. He would take the equipment attached to him in a fanny pack around his waist. Mike is also an avid fan of fishing and hunting, which he continues to routinely do today.
“The support of family, friends and even the support of people I didn’t even know before the diagnosis has been unbelievable,” he says. “Kelly Baker (Christ Medical Center nurse navigator) was invaluable in guiding me through the initial days and months when I didn’t know what to do next. If not for her, I don’t know if I would be here today. No one can do this cancer thing alone. I know that I am so very blessed to be one of the lucky ones and am grateful to be a survivor.”
Christ Medical Center is dedicated to spreading pancreatic cancer awareness, especially during November which is pancreatic cancer awareness month. The American Cancer Society says about 53,670 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2017.
Because pancreatic cancer spreads quickly, catching the disease early can help increase chances of survival. Dr. Mesleh says the five earliest symptoms of pancreatic cancer to watch out for are upper abdominal pain, nausea, weight loss, jaundice / yellowing of the eyes, and diabetes.
Advocate Christ Medical Center is part of Advocate Health Care, which is one of the nation’s leading health care networks. A not-for-profit, 749-bed, premier teaching institution with more than 1,500 affiliated physicians, Christ Medical Center is a leader in health care and one of the major referral hospitals in the Midwest in a number of specialties, including cardiovascular services, heart, kidney and lung transplantation, neurosciences, oncology, orthopedics and women’s health. The hospital also has one of the busiest Level I trauma centers in Illinois providing emergency care for more than 100,000 patient visits annually and is a leader in breakthrough technologies, including eICU® (electronic intensive care unit) monitoring, and the robotic da Vinci Surgery System®. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the medical center among the nation’s leading providers for cardiology & heart surgery and diabetes & endocrinology and rated it overall as being among the top four hospitals in Illinois. The hospital is also recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) as a Magnet Center. Magnet status represents the highest honor in the nursing profession