“It was a gift from God.”
That’s about the only way a pastor from central Pennsylvania and his wife can describe the horrific wreck she was in last fall. Despite what she went through to recover from those crash injuries, the incident saved her life.
Camella Converse of Millville told us about the day last September when she was driving with two friends on a clear, sunny morning, admiring hot air balloons that had suddenly appeared in the sky.
“The next thing I knew, I woke up in the hospital,” Camella said.
With no warning, an 8-point buck jumped from a hill – possibly frightened by those balloons – and hit them in the car on the road below.
“He took the leap. He didn’t clear the car. And he came through the windshield into my face,” Camella said recalls, though she doesn’t remember the wreck. The front-seat passenger was apparently yelling to her.
“She was like, get control of the car! But she was talking to no one. I was unconscious.”
Her husband Paul, a pastor for more than 25 years, got a call from that passenger a few minutes later. He remembers the awful moment he first arrived at the hospital.
“I just said, ‘which one is this?’ I couldn’t even recognize her. They said ‘that’s your wife,’” he recalls.
The next few days were a blur of appointments and procedures. Camella had reconstructive surgery on her face, doctors monitored her sight, and they took full body scans to get a better picture of potential internal injuries.
That’s when Paul noticed the next appointment on their list.
“I said, ‘we’ve got an appointment in October with Dr. Blansfield, general surgeon.’ And she said, ‘what’s that about?’ And I said ‘that’s probably the reason you had this accident.’”
That scan found a mass on Camella’s pancreas, according to Dr. Joseph Blansfield, a surgical oncologist at Geisinger Medical Center near Danville.
“The one Ms. Converse had was a main duct IPMN, and those almost always become cancer eventually,” Dr. Blansfield told us.
IPMN is intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm. Dr. Blansfield says pancreatic cancer is an aggressive and particularly deadly form of cancer because in the majority of cases, the tumor either can’t be removed or has already spread.
“In her situation, the whole duct was so dilated I was worried that to leave part of it could lead to problems down the road,” he noted.
Dr. Blansfield elected to do a pancreatectomy, meaning doctors removed the pancreas completely to prevent any cancer from developing.
Camella is now a Type-1 diabetic for the rest of her life. But she’s alive – and feeling great – thanks to the Saturday morning drive that changed her life.
“The doctor who did the endoscopy said, ‘we think that deer saved your life,’” Camella said.