In telling these stories, Lippe and Le alternate chapters. Lippe writes about the early signs that something was wrong; Le continues with a description of pancreatic cancer, its symptoms, and its treatments. Lippe talks about his prognosis, contemplates the prospect of death, and describes how he began to cope; Le explains the importance, for both doctor and patient, of balancing hope and truth. Lippe speaks frankly about the toll the disease takes on his marriage and family; Le offers a general picture of what most patients can expect with their illness. The book concludes with Lippe and Le’s reflections on their partnership in treating cancer, lessons they have learned, and their thoughts about the positive things that sometimes emerge from illness.
Pancreatic Cancer offers clear explanations of what the disease is, describes what people with the disease will feel physically and mentally, and discusses current treatments and future directions of research. The authors hope that their honest yet hopeful perspective will help all people with cancer and those who care about them.
Michael J. Lippe, now retired, had a career in international development. During more than forty years in government and the private sector, he worked extensively on issues of local government, shelter for the poor, and corruption. He was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer in 2007. Dung T. Le, M.D., is on the medical oncology faculty at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her clinical interests include the care of patients with gastrointestinal malignancies, and her research interests are focused on immunotherapeutic approaches to gastrointestinal malignancies, with a particular emphasis on pancreatic cancer.
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On a still summer night in a seventeenth-century canal house in Amsterdam’s old quarter, Pia de Jong gives birth to a delicate, bright-eyed baby girl with a riddle on her back—a pale blue spot that soon multiplies. In a bare, air-conditioned hospital room, a doctor reveals the devastating answer: it is a rare and deadly form of leukemia, often treated with chemotherapy, a cure nearly as dangerous to a newborn as the disease itself.
Pia and her husband Robbert make an intuitive decision. They do not subject Charlotte to chemotherapy; they bring her home. They transform their canal house into a sanctuary where Charlotte can live surrounded by love and strength, where Pia can give her a chance to live. In return, Charlotte gives her mother the greatest gift of all: purpose.
Saving Charlotte is the story of a daughter’s fight to survive, and of a mother’s fight to live a life of passion and meaning alongside her.