A trip to the emergency room UConn John Dempsey Hospital Jay Booth of Avon was diagnosed with a blocked bile duct due to severe jaundice. After some additional research, a stent was placed in the bile duct and the gallbladder was removed.

When the stent was removed from his bile duct, it collapsed and he ended up back in the emergency room, where a CT scan was performed and a visible mass was accidentally found on Booth’s pancreas.

Booth contacted Dr. Murali Dharan, Associate Professor Gastroenterology at UConn Health who ordered PET. The PET scan showed that the tumor is at a very early stage and is located in the pancreas, which provides a good prognosis.

“What I love about UConn Health is that they kept looking and were not satisfied until they found the answer,” Booth says.

During digestion, your pancreas produces pancreatic juice called enzymes. These enzymes break down sugars, fats and starches. Your pancreas also helps your digestive system by producing hormones. Pancreatic cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the pancreas, and pancreatic adenocarcinoma is the most common type of pancreatic cancer.

Risk factors for pancreatic cancer include:

  • tobacco use
  • Overweight
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace
  • Age. Almost all patients are over 45 years of age. About two-thirds are over 65. The median age at diagnosis is 70 years.
  • Gender: Men are slightly more likely to get pancreatic cancer than women.
  • Race. African Americans are slightly more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than whites.
  • family history
  • Hereditary genetic syndromes


  • Pain in the abdomen extending to the back.
  • Loss of appetite or unintentional weight loss.
  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • Light colored chair.
  • Dark urine.
  • Itchy skin.
  • A new diagnosis of diabetes or existing diabetes that is becoming more difficult to control.
  • Blood clots.

Booth met with Dr. Pragna Kapadia, Associate Professor Department of Medicine Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology in Carol and Ray Nig UConn Health Comprehensive Cancer Center and Dr. David McFadden, Professor and Chairman Department of Surgery UConn Health to determine a treatment plan.

Jay Booth and his wife at a recent concert.

Booth has begun eight cycles of chemotherapy, followed by a combination of chemotherapy and radiation. He was lucky that he had no serious side effects from chemotherapy, which included five hours in the infusion center and another 48 hours at home.

“Besides the cancer, I was in the best shape of my life,” Booth says.

From there, this summer, Booth will undergo Whipple’s operation (pancreatoduodenectomy). This is the most common operation to remove pancreatic head cancer. During this operation, the surgeon removes the head of the pancreas and sometimes the body of the pancreas. Nearby structures are also removed, such as part of the small intestine, part of the bile duct, gallbladder, lymph nodes near the pancreas, and sometimes part of the stomach. The remaining bile ducts and pancreas are then reattached to the small intestine so that bile and digestive enzymes can still flow into the small intestine. The ends of the small intestine (or stomach and small intestine) are then reattached to allow food to pass through the digestive tract (intestine).

Judith Cooney, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Connecticut Cancer Center. Health deals with health psychology, a specialized field that applies evidence-based psychological principles and therapies to help manage the psychosocial impact of medical and health problems and change health behaviors. .

In Health Psychology, Cooney works with cancer patients through all stages of treatment to help manage cancer, screening and diagnosis, treatment, and post-acute care during survival to come back to life and thrive after cancer.

“Survival is often the chapter on the road to cancer that gets the least support,” says Dr. Cooney. “It’s a transformative and frightening time after cancer has changed their lives.”

Cooney is working with Booth to help him cope with a difficult cancer diagnosis, and his difficult emergency stages of treatment and their work will continue after treatment.

“Mr. Booth has been amazing at coping with stress, transforming and growing through cancer,” says Cooney. “His story is inspiring.”

Booth, who watches Cooney weekly, says: “She’s amazing and has helped me on so many levels besides cancer.”

Now Booth has a new outlook on life, he focuses on the little things, the important people in his life and finds joy in everything. He trusts the tools in the “toolbox” that Cooney provided him to overcome this with a positive attitude.

“If I didn’t have a gallbladder problem that was trying to kill me, we might not have discovered it so early, it actually saved me,” Booth says. “We would have a very different conversation now if it hadn’t been discovered so early.”

“I’m over the moon with the care at UConn, it’s world class,” Booth says. “I love nurses and I can’t help but say how wonderful they are – they do God’s work.”

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