In September 2014, Fred Loomis was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He didn’t let that diagnosis stop him from living his best life. Instead he resolved to find the best physicians to treat him.
After several consultations and some research of his own, Fred came to Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center and sought out Ursina Teitelbaum, MD. "Penn has a research center specifically for pancreatic cancer. Just as important to me is how caring the Penn community is. Dr. Teitelbaum and the entire staff treated me really well, I know I made the right choice,” Fred says.
For Fred, his battle with cancer is all about perspective. He doesn't like to think of it as a 'battle'; instead he says he is 'living with' cancer.
Fred points back to a chance encounter at the Abramson Cancer Center that helped shape his positive outlook in the face of a terminal diagnosis. “I was going to my 25th chemotherapy session. Joking about how the valet parking was one of the only perks, I handed my keys to the attendant,” Fred remembers, “I said ‘have a good day, my man’ and he responded ‘Son, I’m having a good day. I woke up this morning.’”
Fred couldn’t stop thinking about this encounter during his four hours in chemotherapy“I just kept thinking about how profound that statement was,” Fred says, “now, I wake every morning grateful for another day.”
Fred went through 55 chemotherapy treatments, five weeks of proton radiation, and one ablation procedure. Throughout his treatment he never forgot to stop and count his blessings.
Of those blessings is his upcoming vacation with his children and grandchildren, his ninth since his diagnosis. “Everyone needs an anchor in their life, and my care team at Penn was one of mine. Dr. Teitelbaum was incredible at tailoring my treatment so I could have the best quality of life possible,” says Fred, “and she gave me goals to focus on. For me it is always taking trips with my family. They mean so much more to me now, and they give me hope.”
Today, five years after his initial diagnosis, Fred is feeling strong, his cancer is stable, and he celebrates every single day that he has been given back. He channels his energy into teaching and writing. He continues to teach at Neumann University grateful every day that he is healthy enough to do so. Recently, Fred had a short story published in the book Chicken Soup for the Soul: Think Positive, Live Happy. Fred’s story, titled “I Woke Up This Morning” pays tribute to that encouraging message from the valet parking attendant.
Aside from teaching, writing, Fred enjoys attending PurpleStride Walk to End Pancreatic Cancer every November.