REALM Content Writer
REALM Content Writer
Alex Turns to Hope After Losing Parents to Pancreatic Cancer
After losing both parents to pancreatic cancer, Alex Rosero and his four siblings were left searching for answers.
“It was a complete shock,” Alex said, “My siblings and I were all living our best lives. Everyone in the family was healthy, and then all of a sudden, we got a call saying our mother needed to go to a hospital right away.”
Alex’s mother, Beatriz aka Bachi, was initially diagnosed in January 2008 after an emergency flight back from Ecuador to the United States where she was admitted.
“You don’t have time to plan something like that,” he said, “You’re learning about the disease in real-time and looking for the best doctor and hospital you can find right away.”
His mother passed away only twenty-eight days later.
Alex describes his family as small and tight knit. Having emigrated from Ecuador in 1960, his parents made up the few Roseros living in the United States, including Alex’s brothers and sisters. That created an even more devastating loss.
Then, only ten years after their mother’s passing, the family received more bad news.
Their dad, Fausto, was an avid soccer fan and had plans to fly to Russia to watch the 2018 World Cup competition. Only, he came down with a fever the day before. Alex and his sister rushed their father to Urgent Care where they were told he needed to immediately go to a hospital.
Their dad spent the next few months receiving care until he passed away from pancreatic cancer.
Following the loss of their mother and father, Alex and his siblings wanted to know if they had an increased risk for pancreatic cancer and what they could do about it, so they began researching ways to get involved. Their family history of pancreatic cancer made them perfect candidates for the Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection (PRECEDE) Consortium’s study.
Working with Dr. Diane Simeone at NYU Langone, Alex became informed of new approaches to early detection and prevention of pancreatic cancer. While there is little data to guide care for those who have two parents with the highly aggressive form of this disease (pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma or PDAC), PRECEDE is working to find answers through research partnerships to discover new ways to medically manage these patients.
For Alex to participate in PRECEDE’s research, it meant facing a painful reminder of what first brought him to the consortium.
“It was difficult walking into the place where I took my dad when he got his second opinion, on the same floor where Dr. Simeone practices,” he said. “It brought up feelings of trauma, reliving that time and seeing the coffee maker that’s there—I remember that specifically all the time.”
Even though Alex describes himself as tough, he credits his parents with setting an example and giving him the strength to pursue things that may seem difficult, like being the first in his family to earn a master’s degree.
His dad was a teacher in Ecuador, and his mom often took him and his siblings to museums as children. Alex believes their pursuit of music and art was the thread that tied their family together, alongside education, which is also what drove him to participate in PRECEDE’s research.
“I don’t want my parents’ story to just be about dying,” he said. “You have the day you were born, and you have the date of your death. There’s that little dash in between, but my parents were more than that. They were incredible human beings.”
Alex describes every appointment after that first one as simple and straightforward. Following a genetic test to determine whether he has a cancer-causing gene, he now returns to the clinic once per year for follow-up. He also receives imaging of his pancreas with endoscopic ultrasound or MRI.
The Rosero family has also grown. With nine nieces and nephews, Alex wants to ensure they experience less worry over pancreatic cancer.
Approaching his third year participating in the cohort, he hopes others know that while it may seem scary to receive new information about your cancer risk, the positives outweigh the unknowns.
“Pancreatic cancer feels like such a death sentence,” Alex said. “It’s nearly 2022, and it should not be that way. We need to focus more on this disease, and I’m doing my small part. For those who are on the fence about participating in the consortium, you could potentially save lives—not only yours but entire generations to come.”