Open Accessibility Menu

William Webb – NanoKnife® System procedure patient and pancreatic cancer survivor

A future in bloom


There’s a 3-acre plot outside William Webb’s home in Atoka, Oklahoma, just waiting for his green thumb to sink into the soil and bring the garden back to life again.

“My wife was the picker; I was the planter,” William says.

It’s been three years since the garden grew in all its glory. First, William lost his wife in 2014. The following summer, he was handed what some call a death sentence: a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

“Boy, don’t think that didn’t knock the props out from under me right then,” William says. The retired father and grandfather saw all his plans — camping trips to Colorado, fishing with his granddaughter, making that garden grow again — start to fade.

Then his family started looking for a second opinion, and they found Houssam Osman, MD.

William Webb – NanoKnife® System procedure patient and pancreatic cancer survivorPreparing for lifesaving surgery

As a hepatopancreaticobiliary surgeon on the medical staff of Methodist Richardson and Methodist Dallas Medical Centers, Dr. Osman focuses on the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, and pancreas. He’s skilled in performing a procedure nicknamed the Whipple — usually the best option for a pancreatic cancer patient.

“Only 20 to 25 percent of pancreatic cancer patients are eligible for the Whipple when first diagnosed, and for patients who aren’t, our job as physicians is to see if we can convert them to that group of eligible patients,” Dr. Osman says. “That was the goal with Mr. Webb.” Twelve rounds of aggressive chemotherapy were aimed to shrink William’s tumor to an operable size.

“I got to looking forward to my chemo about that 10th treatment, because I could see the light at the end of the tunnel,” William says. “And then I knew I was going to come down to Richardson and have that surgery, and everything would be okay.”

A new tool for cancer treatment

The Whipple itself would involve the removal of the head of the pancreas, gallbladder, bile duct, and parts of the stomach and small intestine. The added challenge with William’s surgery, however, was that the golf ball–size tumor was wrapped around an artery and blood vessels.

“Having the NanoKnife® System makes it easier for us to handle these complex situations,” Dr. Osman says. “The tool uses electricity to kill the tumor and straggling cancer cells. It’s vessel-friendly and bile duct–friendly, so we can use it around major and important structures, like arteries and veins, without causing damage to them.”

‘I’ve beat it’

The surgery on April 29 was difficult, but William and his family were confident in Dr. Osman’s skill and grateful for his attentiveness.

“My surgery was on Friday, and he called the nurses at 3 a.m. Saturday morning to check in on me,” William says. “He’s just a good ol’ boy, as nice as he can be. And Methodist Richardson — you couldn’t ask for anybody to treat you any better.”

William’s surgery was followed by 25 rounds of radiation therapy coupled with additional chemotherapy treatments to help ensure his cancer doesn’t return, but as far as he’s concerned, it isn’t coming back.

“They can say there’s a chance of it coming back, but well, you’ve got a chance of being struck by lightning,” William says. “I just really feel that I’ve beat it. By George, I’ve got a lot of things I want to do.”

Summer 2017 is looking really good for that garden. Tomatoes, anyone?