10/06/16

Mahomet man found extra time after cancer diagnosis

"They did everything they could. I have no regrets."

Linda Meachum lost her spouse John to pancreatic cancer last year. She looks back grateful for the last couple of years.

"John lived with pancreatic cancer for two-and-a-half years. That's a very long time for someone with that cancer," Linda said. "John and I did many things we wanted to do before he passed away."

The key is early detection and early treatment.

Wael Youssef, MD, gastroenterologist at Carle Digestive Health Institute, uses an endoscopic ultrasound to spot pancreas and bile duct problems earlier.

"The earlier we can recognize the issue, the better chance we have to help folks," Dr. Youssef said.

When a CT scan or a MRI shows abnormalities for a person having digestive health concerns, Dr. Youssef uses endoscopic ultrasound to help identify what’s wrong.

"The endoscopic ultrasound goes down a person's esophagus and can spot growths just a few millimeters in size. During the procedure, we can biopsy any suspect mass and even put in a stent to open any ducts," Dr. Youssef said.

Before Dr. Youssef came to Carle, patients had to travel to Saint Louis or Chicago for this procedure.

Time is of the essence, not only to get the patient proper care but also to give accurate results.

"I never want to have a patient's weekend ruined with worry. It is my goal to get the biopsy results to the family as fast as possible," Youssef said.

If cancer is identified Dr. Youssef works with the family on a plan of action.

"Carle Cancer Center has doctors and procedures to fight pancreatic cancer. I continue to use the endoscopic ultrasound to see if the cancer is growing. And, I can use stents and other devices to help the pancreas function and extend quality of life," Youssef added.

"Dr. Youssef was amazing," Linda said. "We became friends with him during John's sickness. And, because of his and everyone's hard work, John and I traveled and made great memories with our family."

People with nausea, vomiting, upper abdominal pain or upper abdominal pain that gets worse after eating need to see a doctor right away.

"If the CT scan or MRI shows something strange, we can quickly diagnose the problem and help people go forward with a good life—no matter how long that life is," Dr. Youssef said.