A Family’s Fight Against Pancreatic Cancer

By Amy McSweeney - February 27, 2024

Nancy Gregory and her family sat in an empty Amalie Arena, watching the Tampa Bay Lightning during a private practice usually reserved for media and team staff.

An avid Bolts fan, she says Nikita Kucherov is her favorite player. “He is so focused and never gives up.”

It’s something Gregory shares with the hockey player. At 71, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

In January 2023, routine bloodwork at her yearly physical appeared abnormal. Her doctor ordered a second round of testing, only to see the same results. Gregory was sent to an endocrinologist for an endoscopic procedure that found a tumor on her pancreas. A biopsy confirmed it was pancreatic cancer.

“I woke up from anesthesia and that’s the news I heard: cancer,” Gregory said.

Within a week Gregory met with a surgeon and shortly after she underwent a Whipple procedure. This complex surgery removes parts of the pancreas as well as any nearby affected organs such as the gallbladder, bile duct, duodenum, small intestine and stomach. After several months of recovery focused on a nutritious diet, Gregory learned she needed chemotherapy and radiation.

The Gregory family enjoys a Tampa Bay Lightning private practice at Amalie Arena.
The Gregory family enjoys a Tampa Bay Lightning private practice at Amalie Arena.

Gregory spent six months undergoing chemotherapy, followed by five weeks of radiation at Moffitt Cancer Center in the spring of 2023 under the care of Dr. Dae Won Kim. Between her daughters, husband and sister, she had a strong support system to help her through treatment. Her sister even sat with her during every chemo treatment.

“Family is so important at a time like this,” Gregory said.

Gregory considers herself very fortunate for where she is today considering the grim statistics surrounding pancreatic cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, about 66,440 people (34,530 men and 31,910 women) will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year and about 51,750 will die of the disease.

“I feel very lucky to have a good outcome,” Gregory shared. “I am cancer-free now and get a CT scan every three months just to keep a close watch on it.”

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