Pancreatic cancer survivor thrives despite odds of disease

Jacksonville, Fla. — November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month and Thursday is World Pancreatic Cancer Day. Pancreatic cancer is the only major cancer where survival rates are in the single digits– just 9 percent of people with the disease survive longer than five years.

According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, this year, more than 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed with the disease. That’s more than 145 people who will hear the news every single day.

Fiore DeCosty Jr. loves spending time cooking up a delicious feast for his family. However, he thought his time in the kitchen might be cut short. Seven and a half years ago, DeCosty's doctor found he was suffering from pancreatic cancer.

“He said how do you feel about this? I said, ‘I’m going to die.' I said, 'Pancreatic cancer is a death sentence.’”

DeCosty said that he soon learned that its mind over matter, and found a support group through the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.  Against all odds, he’s reaching new personal milestones every day.

“I want to fight this thing. I’ll do whatever it takes,” said DeCosty.

He said after his first surgery and constant chemotherapy treatments he lost 40 pounds, after losing his appetite.

“You don’t want to eat food, it tastes different, and there are things you used to eat that you won’t taste good. Coffee makes me sick, just to think about it,” explained DeCosty.

DeCosty said he always sees the beauty of life because he lives in the present.

“I just want to give people hope that we're making big strides in pancreatic cancer. We are making real strides, however, we’re not making enough,” said DeCosty.

His cancer has metastasized; spreading to his abdominal area and lungs, but this granddad said he’ll do what it takes to spend time with his family.

According to PCAN, there is no screening test or early detection methods for pancreatic cancer. Most patients are diagnosed when the disease has spread outside of the pancreas and surgery is no longer an option.

The lack of tools for early detection is part of what makes pancreatic cancer so deadly. However, the chances of survival increase tenfold if a patient is diagnosed in time for surgery.