In March 2022, Dr. Matthew Gornet began having pain in his abdominal region. After delaying the inevitable trip to the hospital, he was finally admitted and quickly found that, unfortunately, he had pancreatic cancer. The Gornet / Ratts family faced the unbearable realization that Matthew –father, husband, and soon-to-be grandfather – had one of the deadliest and most pervasive diseases this world offers. With only 15-20% of pancreatic tumors being resectable and resection necessary for a cure, the whole family struggled to find hope in a path forward.
Luckily, Dr. Valerie Ratts, his wife, had strong ties to the St. Louis medical community, and Dr. Gornet would soon after be admitted to one of the leading cancer institutes in the country for the beginning of his treatment. He quickly started on a chemotherapy regimen, eight weeks of being pumped with some of the harshest chemicals created. Despite the sickness and fear that ensued, the whole family rallied together with the hope and faith that miracles could happen. For in the darkest times, God provided the family with beacons of light to see them through: positive reactions of Dr. Gornet to the chemo, a beautiful, healthy, and wonderful first grandchild of the Gornet family, and a soon-to-be daughter-in-law (the Gornet family knew at the time) in Christina Douglas. The darkness began to clear, and things were looking positive until, in the final weeks of his chemotherapy and a month or so before surgery, the doctors revisited his original scans of the tumor to find a second tumor inside the liver (“a met or metastasized cancer”). With this newfound knowledge, he was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer, with an average life expectancy of 3-5 months. After review by the tumor board, the doctors decided they would no longer move forward with surgery, effectively telling the family that there was nothing more they could do and they should get their affairs in order…
With this death sentence, the only path forward was a miracle from God.
After shedding many tears that day, the family decided to get one more second opinion from Dr. Jin He at John Hopkins Medicine. Hopkins Medicine was Dr. Gornet’s and Dr. Ratts's former medical school, and the current OBGYN and plastic residencies of Dr. Megan Gornet and son n’ law Dr. Nicholas Calotta, respectively. The Gornet family flew the next day to see him and his team – who said that he had seen cases like this prevail and that he would perform the Whipple surgery in August. After a successful surgery by Dr. Jin He, a final round of chemotherapy, the incredible support of the medical community at Hopkins, and a miracle, the pancreatic cancer has been completely removed from Dr. Gornet, who walks cancer-free.
As a result of the blessings that our family has been given, Tina and I have decided to provide monetary support to further Dr. Jin He’s research in pancreatic cancer in lieu of a traditional registry. The best gift of all, is having my father and Tina’s future father n’ law be with us today, and that would not have been possible without Dr. Jin He. We hope you would consider making a contribution to this very important work that impacts many families like ours across the world.
Zach and Tina