Real People, Real Stories

Pancreatic cancer survivor

John Overton

When John Overton was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the doctors told him he could expect to live for 2 years at the most. What the doctors didn’t know was that they were dealing with a decorated war veteran, who would not let cancer write the final chapter of his life.

When John reflects on his many close-calls while serving in the military, he says that nothing compared to being diagnosed with cancer. After a tumor was found on his pancreas in 1986, John received a Whipple operation and was moved to the cancer ward at the Houston VA Hospital. Shortly after, his doctor gave him the devastating news that he had two years to live. “My first thought was, ‘I’m terminal,’” says John. After further considering that thought, he realized he had been ‘terminal’ since birth. “I decided to change the course of my life,” says John. “I considered the good I might be able to do if only I survived two weeks, two months or two years.”

More than 25 years later, John is alive and well. He became a CanCare volunteer in 1994 and has been matched with more than 90 people to provide one-on-one cancer support. He is also active in CanCare’s hospital visitation program. “I heard about CanCare and the opportunities it could give me to help initiate the new direction cancer had made in my life – the opportunity to try to give hope to other people. I like to think that my efforts have made a difference in the lives of some of my clients. Only God may know the answer. Regardless, I can truthfully say I have been richly blessed by having the opportunity that only CanCare afforded me to try to be of service to others.”

CanCare has been serving people with cancer since 1990.  All services are confidential and free of charge.  To talk to someone surviving your diagnosis, click here.