After Fighting Back Cancer, Nurse Practitioner Will Take On the Cow Harbor Race

Janice Canfield isn’t going to let a little rain–or even a lot–deter her from Saturday’s Great Cow Harbor 10k Run. Afterall, she’s conquered worse. A lot worse.

The Northwell nurse practitioner will walk/run with a couple dozen other cancer survivors, just a year after she learned that she had pancreatic cancer.

“I walked the Cow Harbor race last year, and three days later, i was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer,” she said. “At the time, my brother-in-law was actively dying of pancreatic cancer and he died in December,” she said.

But even getting to the point of diagnosis wasn’t easy, the former Northport resident who now lives in East Hampton, said.

On her doctor’s recommendation, Canfield, 57, decided to seek further help from a specialist and booked an appointment in New York City. On her way there, she decided to also call Northwell, and almost immediately, got an appointment with Dr. William H. Nealon, Northwell’s vice chair of surgery and chief of gastrointestinal and pancreatic surgery.

“I had surgery on Oct. 5, it went off without a hitch, started chemo on Nov. 14 and finished that on May 9,” she said.

Canfield, who holds a doctorate in nursing practice, said, “It’s been a long journey. I do believe in staying positives, that prayers and humor help get you through it.”

Her surgeon agrees. “It’s a bad surgery, but it’s considerably better than it has been,” he said of the major surgery he performed known as a Whipple procedure. “There’s too much of a sense of hopeless surgery. We are now able to pre-treat people previously known as not good candidates for surgery.

“My big messageĀ  is that (pancreatic cancer) is no longer a death sentence. The most powerful message is hope.”

The Whipple procedure involves removing the cancerous part of the pancreas as well as parts of other organs to eliminate any spread of the disease.

Patients should see a specialist, he said. “Think about Northwell if they are declared non-operable. Don’t quit looking.”


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