When Scott Franson developed bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma), his life could have been over in his early forties. But thanks to the liver transplant protocol developed by surgeons in Huntsman Cancer Institute's Hepatobiliary Cancers Research Program (HCRP), at age 46 he's looking ahead to many cancer-free years.
"The liver has functioned great since my transplant," Scott says. "I've had a few ups and downs, but the liver has functioned perfectly. I'm in follow-up to make sure everything's okay, and I take anti-rejection medicine."
The transplant has made it possible for Scott to return to his graphic design teaching position at BYU Idaho in Rexburg. "Being able to return to teaching and be with the students again is the best," he says.
Scott received his liver transplant in 2008 under a University of Utah Transplant Section clinical trial. Since then, the clinical trial protocol has been made the standard of care for bile duct cancer patients whose disease is found at an early stage. The protocol included pretransplant chemotherapy and radiation, staging surgery to check that the cancer had disappeared, and further chemotherapy until a transplant became available.
"For me, cancer did not turn out to mean that my life was immediately over. The treatment was tough. Radiation was hard. But there was always a sense of hope from the caretakers, the doctors, and the support staff. There was a whole team of people, right from the beginning, and they all cared," Scott says.
He adds, "My wife has been an awesome caregiver. She's been there to help me through everything. One thing she says to me frequently is 'Time will pass. Time passes' to remind me that challenges and pain will pass with time."
Scott's experience with cancer leads him to offer this advice: "I don't want to give false hope to people. When they tell you that the chance of survival is two percent or something like that, it's scary. But you just have to continue living and loving and going on."
Learn more about bile duct cancer in our cancer types and topics, or visit the Gastrointestinal Cancer Program webpages.