a second chance Facing pancreatic cancer, Jose Velazquez entrusted his life to an Advocate specialist. A surprise attack A retired telecommunications engineer, Jose Velazquez takes good care of his health—and gets up weekdays at 4:30 am to work out. He and Rosemary, his wife of 41 years, live in a lovely home in Lombard with their beloved dog, Charlie. The couple’s children, Melissa and Gabriel, are now successful adults who live close enough to visit their parents often—and they do. Jose has every reason to be content with his life. But less than two years ago, he got some very bad news. It started with the symptoms of a gallbladder attack. Jose saw his primary care physician, Anthony Lin, MD, a member of Advocate Physician Partners. Dr. Lin sent him to Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital for an ultrasound of the gallbladder and a consultation with surgeon Mohan Airan, MD, an expert in laparoscopic surgery to remove the gallbladder. Dr. Airan listened carefully, and Jose’s description of pain that radiated around his back made the doctor suspect something else was wrong. A second ultrasound proved him right: Not only did the gallbladder have to 6 – healing gifts – Spring 2014 go, but there was also a tumor on the pancreas. Upon hearing this, Jose says, “I was devastated, anxious, depressed—a little of everything. Then I started to worry.” In good hands Jose needed a pancreatic surgery specialist, so Dr. Lin referred him to Ajay Maker, MD, at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center’s Creticos Cancer Center. Jose’s very protective son, Gabriel, researched oncology surgeons and went with him to see Dr. Maker. Favorably impressed, Gabriel pronounced, “He’s the one you want, Dad.” Was the tumor on Jose’s pancreas cancerous? Over a few weeks that seemed like an eternity, test after test came back inconclusive. He was wheeled into surgery on August 20—still not knowing if the tumor was malignant or benign. Trusting in Dr. Maker’s judgment and not wanting to have another surgical procedure, Jose authorized him to remove any organs he needed to. That turned out to be his gallbladder, his spleen, and part of the pancreas, along with the tumor.