Retired Waco detective shares message on World Pancreatic Cancer Day

Posted at 2:29 PM, Nov 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-18 17:11:16-05

WACO, Texas — Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers imaginable, with a five-year survival rate just above ten percent by some estimates.

Thursday marks World Pancreatic Cancer Day.

It’s a day that holds special meeting to Dennis Taylor, a retired Waco detective and US ARMY veteran. He still remembers the phone call that changed his life last year.

“They saw something on my scan, on my pancreas,” says Taylor. “When I got my diagnosis, first hearing pancreatic cancer, it’s scary. It’s one of the bad ones.”

Despite the odds, Taylor’s doctors thought he had a fighting chance, as he was still at stage two.

Months of intense chemo treatment followed, which saw his weight drop by some 75 pounds.

He was repeatedly told surgery wasn’t a viable option, but eventually the 56-year-old found a doctor who thought he could make it work.

Courtesy: Taylor family

Enter Dr. Alejandro Mejia, who’s based at Methodist Dallas Medical Center.

“The location of the pancreas is a very dangerous area, because basically you’re surrounded by main blood vessels,” said the doctor in a recent interview with 25 News.

Dr. Mejia knew the surgical options weren’t great, but he thought because of where Dennis’ cancer was specifically there might be one option.

“We were able to remove all this part of the pancreas, along with the spleen. That procedure has a technical name, it’s called an Appleby procedure, or modified Appleby,” said Mejia.

The surgery was painstaking and intense, lasting more than three hours.


But Taylor’s dreams of retirement and travel with his wife kept him strong during the procedure.

He survived and the procedure was a complete success.

“I was actually out of the bed walking around a few hours after my surgery. They thought I was kind of crazy but I said, ‘I got things to do haha,”’ says Taylor.

Those “things” involve traveling the world. He’s on a Caribbean cruise this week, after taking his wife to Europe in September.

“Three days in London, Paris and Rome, and we had the trip of a lifetime. It was fantastic,” says Taylor.


Right now, he says all of his tests and scans are coming back cancer free.

He’s still working to put back on the weight, but generally feels like he’s getting stronger every day.

His message to others is simple: if something doesn’t feel right, insist on getting checked out time and time again.

“Get your checks up. Take it serious, and if you do get sick with something like this know it’s not the end of everything.”