WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — It’s not every day you cheat death, but that’s exactly what Earl Groce is doing.
Groce rang the victory bell at Wake Forest Baptist’s Comprehensive Cancer Center to mark five years of surviving stage IV pancreatic cancer.
“People tell me to have a good day and I say, every day is,” Groce said.
In October 2015, Groce learned what he thought was a herniated belly button was a cancerous nodule. He was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to his lungs, liver and fatty tissues.
A five-year survival rate is only 3 percent.
“We had just got back from Burning Man when I got diagnosed and my wife said we’ll go back next year and I said to myself, yeah right,” Groce said.
But they did go back, three more times.
Groce enrolled in a clinical trial at Wake Forest Baptist. He credits CPI613, an experimental drug, for helping keep him alive.
“What’s this drug going to do to you? Kill you? I mean you just got a death sentence, so what can it do to you worse than that,” Groce said.
For Groce it’s allowed him to travel, watch his grandchildren grow up and keep busy at 72 years old.
It’s a luxury he owes to those on the front lines during his treatment.
“Somebody asked me to mention a couple of nurses that stand out, they are all wonderful,” Groce said.
Groce wants other pancreatic cancer patients to know it doesn’t have to end in death.
“I’ve said I’m the luckiest stage IV pancreatic cancer patient to ever live,” Groce said.
Groce received his 116th chemotherapy treatment this week.
He says doctors won’t use the word remission or cured. He explained to FOX8, basically his status is no active sign of cancer.