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Pancreas Cancer

PC stage IV was posted 06/30/2009 04:01 pm by Albert
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Dear Friends4ever,

From what I have gathered, every case is quite unique, so it is hard to generalize.

Still, since you ask for experiences, and that of my son is quite similar as a starting point, let me try my two cents. My son, who turned 39 in May, was diagnosed with pancreatic adenocarcinoma stage IV on January 3, 2009. His sunshine will turn 2 in a couple of weeks.

>* She is worried how sick she can get from a chemo ?

My son was judged 'otherwise in good health' and was given one of the strongest chemo combo (GTX -Gemcitabine/Gemzar; Docetaxel/Taxotere; Capecitabine/Xeloda). He was literally floored for 48 hours after the GT infusions, and very tired during the whole cycle. If you hope that the chemotherapy work, you have to be ready for this, unfortunately (the chemo disrupt all cellular reproduction in the body, not only that of cancerous cells). Not only that, but even if the chemo works, the cancer is still disrupting the digestive track, making the sufferer miserable.

* Will this be Gemzar what I hear n this website?

It will be, hopefully, a combination based on Gemcitabine/Gemzar. GTX is very popular on this list, and did great with my son, who could however take it for only one round of three cycles. Another promising combo is the Virginia Mason Protocol, GDB (Gemcitabine, Docetaxel, Bevacuzimab).

* will she loose the hair?

My son lost little hair, but his previously exuberant beard grows slower now, and his eyebrows do not show anymore on pictures ...

* if Chemo works and if it shrink can they operate her pc and do a liver transplant?

From what I understood, and was repeated the last few days in this forum, once there are metastasis, they will not do a liver transplant, because the tumors will most likely spread again. Also, it is 'common knowledge' that stage IV are non-operable (non-resectable). This being said, my son's liver metastasis have now nearly disappeared (only 3 are left from the more than a dozen, and those 3 have shrunk a lot -average size now 6mm). And, and this was a great news, his oncologist had him start a session of focused radiotherapy (IMRT -intensity modulated radio therapy) aiming only at the main pancreatic tumor. This is not surgery, but the closest thing to it, and is not presented as a regular option when diagnosed with PC stage IV.

* What will be her mood while the chemo so how we can help?

This is the crux of the matter. If you want her to have a chance to fight this beast, she has to be able to concentrate as much as possible on the fight. All other matters have to be relegated to the back burner... A tall order with a toddler around. Life is so unfair. Holding this beast at bay is exhausting. It tires even the strongest people. But it is essential to keep a positive, fighting mood. And I am sure that the role of the spouse/companion and caregivers is essential there. Not only there will be household chores she cannot do, but she will need help organizing and then going to the treatments and the doctors.

* We are trying and being positive for her.We know all in mind and we beleive we are all going to fight with this.

I would not say 'all in mind', because we do need and rely on medicine. But a positive mind is the essential ingredient in this situation, specially that finally real cures seem objectively a few months to a few years away.

At 39 years old, if she is in average health, with a positive mind and an aggressive chemo treatment, you friend can realistically hope to live long enough for a chance to receive a much improved treatment.

Lastly, this is a long, hard slog. There will be ups and down, bumps on the road nearly every week. It is essential to keep a positive attitude, and not to give up.

Even if she ultimately loses the battle, her daughter will know that she fought valiantly to stay with her.

Best luck to all Albert

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*DISCLAIMER: This page is an unmoderated forum, and the opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Patients are advised to consult their personal physicians before making any medical decisions.
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