MURRAY, Utah (ABC4 Utah)– A cancer doctor turned patient, and then, requests his life saving surgery be live tweeted to bring more awareness to pancreatic cancer.
Dr. Mark Lewis, a cancer specialist at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray learned, first hand, what his own patients go through when he found out he had pancreatic cancer.
“We keep our patient information as private as possible but you also have that right to waive that privacy as a patient so taking off my doctor coat and putting on my patient gown I decided to do that,” said Dr. Lewis.
Despite the most challenging time in his life, Mark was most interested in helping others. Colleagues tweeted during the 6 and a half hour surgery called a Whipple procedure which is one of the most complex surgeries.
“When millions engaged surrounding the tweets it was gratifying, people paid attention not for my sake but it was raising awareness for pancreatic cancer. It deserves attention and we need to do better,” said Dr. Lewis.
One person tweets: ‘He’s inspiring to so many.’
Another says ‘one benefit to the tweets is that future patients can review all the steps.’
Not only that, but followers learned important information to catch the cancer early. Warning signs such as losing weight combined with developing diabetes, are major red flags.
“I don’t want people to be scared of the surgery that they miss the chance to save their life as it saved mine, it really has. I consider myself profoundly lucky to be a doctor in oncology. I went into this field because I lost my father to cancer when I was 14. I’m grateful. I have a fuller perspective on the patient side too,” said Dr. Lewis.
The kind of pancreatic cancer Mark had was slow growing but the surgery was critical after a scan showed a tumor was growing aggressively. He says this experience has made him a better, empathetic doctor.
“I do get it a little more. The first patient coming back from surgery was a man with pancreatic cancer. I’m grateful for the healthcare I received and I want to pay it forward in my practice.”
November is pancreatic awareness month.
Signs of Pancreatic Cancer:
- Family history
- Diabetes along with losing weight
- Abdominal pain