Pain Control - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Friday, April 30, 2004

Pain Control

Imagine how difficult it is to watch a loved one suffer from the pain of an aggressive cancer. Then imagine the shock and fear when, 30 years later, you get the same diagnosis. The woman you're about to meet tried to ease her father's pain as he struggled and died from pancreatic cancer. Thankfully, when Nancy Sullivan was faced with the same inevitable pain, doctors at Mayo Clinic were able to improve her pain as they treated her cancer.


"This picture was taken in1967. The year I got married."

It was also the year Nancy Sullivan's father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

"Even with the pain medication he was in terrible pain."

Nancy's dad died two years later. When she found out the pain in her upper abdomen was also pancreatic cancer...

"I was afraid because I had watched what my dad had gone through."

But thankfully, medical advances allowed Dr. Gilbert Wong to ease Nancy's pain with a nerve block called a neurolytic celiac plexus block.

"The hope is to block the ability for pain to be transmitted through certain nerve centers."

First Dr. Wong inserts needles into each side of the patients mid-back. Then he advances the needle tips to nerve centers in the upper abdomen. Next he injects a substance that blocks pain transmission from traveling to the spinal cord, giving patients relief.

Dr. Wong and his colleagues compared the nerve block to pain-relieving medications such as morphine, and found that patients who had the block...

"received much better pain relief compared to patients who received opioids alone."

"It was unbelievable. The relief I got."

The block allowed Nancy to continue to work and keep house. She's one of the few who's beating pancreatic cancer – a disease that often takes lives within 6 months. 

Nancy is very lucky to have survived pancreatic cancer. Dr. Wong says for those who succumb to the disease, the nerve block may offer essential pain relief that improves the quality of their remaining days. His study was published in the march 3rd edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. For more information click

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