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Pancreatic Cancer - What to expect after surgery?
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Hello. I am in my late 70s and have recently been diagnosed with Stage 1 pancreatic cancer. My surgeon is recommending whipple surgery in early October. I understand that the recovery time is upwards of six months. What can I expect following the surgery in so far as side effects, mobility, being able to stay at home, driving, etc.?

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2437 Posts

Hi @Mieke

I saw your post and looked up some members that have reported having the Whipple procedure or have had it recommended. I am tagging @Marsha_K @GusB @ScubaSteve1981 and @GFree for you. Hopefully they will see this post and contribute to the information sharing.

Also, if you click on Forums, then Click on Cancer Types, scroll down and click on Pancreatic Cancer it is full of posts and threads from others here on the site to read or reply to.

Hope this helps you.


Hello Mieke‍, welcome! Been awhile since I’ve been on here. Great resource. Great that they caught that cancer early! That’s already a plus or as much of a plus as one can get in terms of having this sinister thing.

bit about myself…..I was diagnosed back in Feb. 2022 with stage 3 PC - still could be worse . I have had the Whipples procedure done, removed ALL the cancer “cleanly” (as they put it) and am now about to undergo number 11 of 12 treatments.

about the Whipple - it’s NO joke , some serious surgery going on there - it involves many organs as I’m sure you have read up on. Now, don’t let that be alarming. The human body is an amazing creation!

I had surgery and was on the table for 6.5 hours, I had an Epidural line infusing me with fentanyl for pain management thereafter. The pain was not bad at all - so long as I didn’t enter a pain crisis (ALWAYS ENSURE YOUR TEAM IS ON TOP OF YOUR MEDS AND BE PRO ACTIVE WITH THIS TO ABOID PAIN CRISIS)

The physiotherapist will likely have you on your feet within 24-48 hours to avoid blood clots but also to get your body moving. You will likely feel stiff, you don’t realize how much you use your core until a surgery like this one IMO. They will ask you to grab a pillow, wrap it around your waist area over the incision, bare down with your arms to brace it and try letting out small coughs - THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. Last thing you want is a cough sneaking up on you and it may, but it can really hurt. It takes time for this also so don’t be discouraged, just exercise this way everyday if you can, even multiple times.

They will ease you into solid foods with a dietary program. Mine took about 24 hours and I was eating things like cereal, eggs…etc. it’s no too bad.

all in all I was out of hospital in 5 days. Everyone is different though. On homecoming, I was still very stiff in the midsection, hard to stand up straight. A fellow patron on here suggested the use of a bean bag heated to lay over the incision area when sleeping and this seemed to help me. Overtime, your body comes back as it walkways does.

Eating may change if part or all of your pancreas is being removed. You may need digestive enzymes called CREON to help with pancreatic insufficiency. Eating smaller meals frequently and slowly is best practice but a dietician or doctor will coach you on this I’m sure.

bottom line :
-The surgery is no joke - allow yourself to recover, everyone is different
-practice your exercises always if you can, especially for “coughing”
-try to get up and walk asap as long as it’s mostly comfortable- push but not too hard (medical staff will have you covered on this)
- small, frequent meals to help with recovery - try not to over due
-document bowel movements - foods, reactions to foods if you can - this can be invaluable to a medical/oncology dietician but you don’t have to….
- monitor weight - helps with dosing CREON enzymes
- keep a positive mind!! (Huge)

currently I am still trying to navigate the diet situation, enzymes and dosing but my legs and my oncology team are getting it down L. My situation may differ from yours, I am undergoing chemotherapy- a whole other beast so…..

Any questions please feel free to reach out, I hope I’ve answered some of your questions here
102 Posts
@Mieke: My surgery was in November and I celebrated Christmas with the family and flew home January 3 and then went on a last minute Mexico vacation right after that before chemo started. Surgeon thought is was a great idea. Its true that its no picnic but if you get moving out of bed as soon as you can, the quicker your recovery. BUT it all depends if there are any complications or other ailments you're fighting. I always tried to look on the bright side, remained optimistic and thankful to God and was in hospital just under 2 weeks. Surgeon said recovery is 3 months and I was way below that. Creon is not the only enzyme drug...there are others...I'm on Cotazym and haven't had any problems.

@ScubaSteve1981 and @GusB

Thank you both for answering @ACH2015's tag and sharing your experience with @Mieke . Your thoughtful and informative responses will no doubt help not only them but so many others who will read it.

Sending you both good vibes as you continue with your treatment.


9 Posts

Thank you for your very informative post, I also have pc and am going for round 10 of 12 upfront ahead of surgery, hopefully scheduled on nov 17 as long as the rest of my chemo goes according to schedule. Reading your post has given me some insight, rather read it on here than dr Google. Thanks again.

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