By Deborah Rowe
For The Star
Bill Schultz a retired Richmond resident, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at only 51 years old. Against the odds, he fully recovered while being a patient at MD Anderson Cancer Center and has been spreading hope and joy to others suffering bouts of cancer for over 10 years.
Pancreatic cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancerous) cells form in the tissues of the pancreas. The pancreas is a gland located behind the stomach and in front of the spine.
The pancreas produces digestive juices and hormones that regulate blood sugar. Cells called exocrine pancreas cells produce the digestive juices, while cells called endocrine pancreas cells produce the hormones. The majority of pancreatic cancers start in the exocrine cells, according to WebMD.
There are various treatments for pancreatic cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Chemotherapy uses drugs to treat cancer, while radiation therapy uses X-rays or other kinds of radiation to kill cancer cells. Surgery can be used to remove a tumor or to treat symptoms of pancreatic cancer.
“I had chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. I was in remission after two years, and then there was a recurrence in both lungs,” Schultz said. “I also had 19 chemo treatments. Due to surgery, I am now diabetic.”
Schultz said he has been doing volunteer work at MD Anderson in the Texas Medical Center for 17 years and 10 years at the Sugar Land location.
Schultz said he volunteers with current cancer patients and caregivers in the Hospitality Room. At the MD Anderson in Sugar Land, He arrives at 5:30 a.m. to help get ready for the 6:30 a.m. opening by making coffee and getting linens ready.
“We have a great staff and I try to help as needed. My main concern is the patients, to help them while they get their treatment,” he said.
At the MD Anderson at the Texas Medical Center, Schultz said that he and three other volunteers work at the Hospitality Center where they assist by giving out coffee and directions.
“Around noon, myself and another pancreatic cancer survivor who is now a volunteer, visit patients in the hospital that have had the same surgery as us and we share our story with them,” he said.
Schultz said it makes him feel good to give patients hope in a time of despair.
“They are able to see that I am living a normal life and have recovered,” he concluded.