Osvaldo DeLima's Story
Osvaldo DeLima, his wife Silvana and their two daughters relocated to the United States from Brazil in 2003. Mr. DeLima’s job required travel that was easier to manage from North Texas, and the family quickly learned to love their new home.
Osvaldo had always enjoyed excellent health and was disciplined with diet and exercise. In March 2016, the family was busy preparing for one daughter’s graduation and the other daughter’s wedding. Osvaldo experienced abdominal pain that he thought was a pulled muscle, but Silvana insisted he get it checked when the pain became acute. The doctor diagnosed him with pancreatitis. The DeLimas now refer to the incident as his “blessed pancreatitis” because it led to an earlier detection of pancreatic cancer. Doctors removed a 4.5 cm tumor, and Osvaldo underwent both chemotherapy and radiation from April until December 2016.
In July 2017, scans revealed that the cancer had spread to his lungs. Acknowledging there were very few options for patients with Stage IV pancreatic cancer, his oncologist recommended two options: another chemotherapy that might give him 4-5 more months of life -- or a clinical trial. With very little information about which types of trials were best for his type of cancer, Osvaldo and Silvana contacted several major cancer research centers. An out-of-state center directed them to a center close to home – Mary Crowley Cancer Research.
Initially Osvaldo was unsure about clinical trials, but he and his family agreed he had little to lose by trying a therapy that might prolong his life. In August 2017 Osvaldo enrolled on a combination clinical trial. Osvaldo said “At Mary Crowley I felt HOPE... The staff is so friendly and pleasant, and we always feel welcome.” After the first cycle, scans showed that Osvaldo’s cancer was stable. After the second cycle, the tumors had shrunk by 6%. After the third cycle, scans revealed a 23% reduction – a remarkable response for advanced pancreatic cancer. Currently he is participating on a phase II study of combined targeted therapy plus gemcitabine and nab-paclitaxel. The DeLimas are grateful for the progress, and they find it rewarding to know that data from his trial will help future patients.
Silvana asserts that Osvaldo’s positive attitude has been a tremendous asset to his cancer journey. Osvaldo says, “It’s important to look at cancer in a holistic fashion… physicians, the right treatment plan, good nutrition and exercise, faith and family support and an understanding employer are important to your success… I believe that things happen for a reason. It helps to believe in a higher power who is guiding you towards a good purpose.” Osvaldo continues to work at his same job, and he enjoys spending time with his family and friends. Both Osvaldo and Silvana agree “Esperanca mora aqui. Hope lives here.”
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