BreshonnaBreShonna Broadey is a young lady who is always on the go. From working a full-time job, going to school and caring for her young daughter, she didn’t have time in her busy schedule to take a break. However, one trip to the emergency department brought her life to a crashing halt.

In August 2019, BreShonna started to feel a sharp pain in her stomach. Although it was painful, she didn’t think it warranted medical attention and continued on with her daily life. However, day after day, the pain increased to the point where she could barely walk. That’s when she landed at the emergency department at MemoricalCare Long Beach Medical Center where they found a tumor in her pancreas.

BreShonna experienced a whirlwind of emotions. Scared, shocked and filled with sheer disbelief, she didn’t know how to react at first.

“I was scared because of my family’s medical history,” says BreShonna. “Many of my family members have existing medical conditions, and my mind immediately thought of the worst.”

Luckily, after a series of tests, the tumor was found to be a very favorable solid-pseudopapillary tumor. BreShonna was referred to Ronald Wolf, M.D., a surgeon who specializes in treating pancreatic and liver tumors (both malignant and benign) at the MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Medical Center.

“Solid-pseudopapillary tumors are one of the more common tumors found in the pancreas for someone in their 20s,” says Dr. Wolf. “They are dangerous tumors that people can die from and usual require complex surgeries to remove.”

Because Dr. Wolf exclusively treats tumors of the pancreas and liver, he has the expertise to treat the most complex cases, such as BreShonna’s. This level of expertise is typically not available outside of academic institutions. Long Beach Medical Center although not academically affiliated, is one of the only hospitals in the area with these capabilities.   

“Dr. Wolf calmed me down,” says BreShonna. “He kept reassuring me he does this type of surgery all the time, and that I would be fine.”

On Jan. 9, 2020, Dr. Wolf performed an eight-hour surgery. He used ultrasound imaging technology during surgery to help guide him in removing the tumor. Because it was so large and impacting the pancreas and other organs, the left side of the pancreas also had to be removed.

“One of the impacted organs was the spleen which is an essential organ that filters the blood,” says Dr. Wolf. “Since the tumor was quite large, it was a challenge, but we made sure we were able to keep the spleen intact while removing the tumor.”

He made small precise incisions near her pubic area, similar to what a woman would get during a c-section to help conceal the scars. By using this approach, the impact was as minimal as possible.

BreShonna woke up to her mom, dad, sister and daughter by her side. She then spent four days at Long Beach Medical Center recovering. Once discharged from the hospital, she had a strong urge to get back to her daily routine.

“I felt ok, but I knew if I wanted to make a full recovery, I would have to take things slow,” says BreShonna.

She started with light physical activity. She would take walks outside and do small tasks at home but still take time to rest and heal. And in February 2020 just a month later, she was able to go back to work full-time. Now one year later, BreShonna has made a full recovery and she’s back to her regular active lifestyle.

“I knew my body and I knew something was wrong. I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer to go to the emergency department, I don’t know what would have happened to me if I did,” says BreShonna.

Thankfully, BreShonna’s tumor was benign. Even so, it was vital for her to listen to her body when she started feeling unwell. Pancreatic tumors that are cancerous don’t often cause symptoms until the cancer has advanced. It’s important to seek medical attention immediately from a pancreatic cancer specialist, such as Dr. Wolf, if you notice any unusual symptoms or changes in your body.

The MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Medical Center has a Complex Pancreatic & Liver Cancer Program dedicated to diagnosing and treating this complex disease.