By Lizette Robles - August 09, 2020
Tierra Verde resident David Ridel looked forward to life after retirement. He spent his career working in health care administration and was ready to live the Florida life with his wife Kathleen and their 7-year-old black lab Millie.
But at a time when traveling and long walks on the beach should have been on the horizon, Ridel was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
“My doctor was treating me for pre-diabetes when I became jaundice in December 2017. In January 2018 scans revealed the tumor,” said Ridel.
A physician immediately recommended surgery prior to seeing a medical oncologist, but Ridel’s family convinced him to get a second opinion at Moffitt Cancer Center.
He met with Dr. Jason Fleming, chair of Moffitt’s Department of Gastrointestinal Oncology. After three months of chemotherapy, Ridel underwent a pancreatectomy in May 2018, where his entire pancreas and several surrounding organs were removed. The surgery was a success, but not without a few complications along the way. After spending 14 days in the hospital and recuperating at home, he resumed chemotherapy post-surgery. In February 2019, Ridel stood beside Dr. Fleming and rang the celebration bell, marking the end of his treatment.
In October 2019, Ridel’s scans showed no evidence of disease, just in time for him to participate in and complete his first Miles for Moffitt 5K.
“We were on the GI Six Sites team,” said Ridel. “I never expected to see such warmth, smiles and positive energy from everybody.”
Since his diagnosis, Ridel has been a big advocate to help raise funds for cancer research.
“Without the research, care and courage that Moffitt provides, I wouldn't be a survivor today. One of the most shocking things you can hear is that ‘C’ word. It scares you to death,” he said.
As luck would have it, Ridel was fortunate to meet another cancer survivor at Miles for Moffitt; the founder of the cancer center that saved his life.
“I was honored to meet H. Lee Moffitt at the race,” said Ridel. “I finished right beside him. It was a great honor.”
Ridel recently joined Pinellas Partners to help raise awareness and additional funds for research at Moffitt.
“Everybody is fighting for a cure and everybody affected by this horrible disease needs support. I'm so blessed by my medical team at Moffitt and I want to do everything I can to raise awareness for pancreatic cancer.”