Brown's Cancer Battle
- Hannah Brown, 27, details in her new memoir how she battled pancreatic cancer as a child.
- Her cancer was diagnosed at age 11, after persistent stomaches; Brown had surgery to treat it, which left no trace of cancer in her body. She did not need chemotherapy or radiation.
- Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive disease; early detection of it can mean broader treatment options.
The Alabama-native starred on season 15 of The Bachelorette, and she also starred on Dancing with the Stars. Brown was the winner of season 28 of DWTS, and she was also a beauty pageant winner, crowned as Miss Alabama USA, in 2018.Read More
Brown’s Pancreatic Cancer Battle
In her book, Brown details how her pancreatic cancer first presented. She says that when she was in 5th grade, she had persistent stomachaches, so she went to the doctor and got an MRI.
The MRI revealed that Brown had “a tumor the size of an egg” on her pancreas, reports Page 6. “They sent me for a biopsy, and a day or so later, my dad got a call with the results — not from our regular doctor, but from an oncologist. The tumor was malignant. Cancer. Pancreatic cancer — one of the deadliest forms of cancer there is,” writes Brown.
Brown had surgery to treat her pancreatic cancer. She writes, “On the day of my surgery, I wasn’t scared about what was going to happen to me. At all. Even though my mother was in tears and my dad looked as worried as I’d ever seen him in my life as the nurses came to wheel me into the operating room, I looked up at my mom from my hospital bed and said, ‘Mama, I’m going to be okay.’” She does write, though, how she feared losing her hair due to her cancer and its treatment.
Her operation was effective and Brown has been cancer-free since the surgery. She didn’t have to undergo radiation or chemo to treat her cancer. “I had to go to checkups a few times a year or so after [the surgery],” Brown writes, “but nothing else ever turned up in my scans or in my bloodwork.”
Brown’s cancer victory is truly an inspiration for all those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic Cancer Detection
Because her pancreatic cancer was detected relatively early, doctors told Brown that cancer had not yet advanced and spread to other areas of her body.
Pancreatic cancer is often an aggressive disease, so early detection of it is crucial. Dr. Anirban Maitra, co-leader of the Pancreatic Cancer Moon Shot at MD Anderson Cancer Center, said in an earlier interview, “Because the pancreas is inside the abdomen, it often doesn’t have symptoms that would tell you that something is wrong with your pancreas. By the time individuals walk into the clinic with symptoms like jaundice, weight loss, back pain, or diabetes, it’s often very late in the stage of the disease.”
When the disease is detected earlier, however, a wider number of treatment options may exist. “Each year in the United States, about 53,000 patients get pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Maitra.
“And unfortunately, most will die from this disease within a few months to a year or so from the diagnosis,” he says. “And the reason for that is that most individuals, about 80%, will actually present with what we called advanced disease, which means that the cancer has either spread beyond the pancreas or into other organs like the liver, and so you cannot take it out with surgeries.”
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