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Pancreas Cancer

Different opinion.... was posted 04/23/2016 12:25 pm by Anonymous
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You seem to be very attentive to your Mom. It is wonderful you have been coming for such long visits. I'm sure it helps her spirits tremendously.

First, the best doctor to tell you how she is doing is the Oncologist, not the surgeon. So I would look to that doctor for prognosis. However, it is still a good sign that the surgeon thinks things are looking ok.

Second, it is an utter miracle that your Mom is Stage 4 and hasn't had any treatment in one year, and at least from what you have posted... seems to be stable and doing ok. This is amazing, and is reassuring. Your mother is an outlier, and is already one of the lucky ones. Maybe it will continue?

Third.... how does she look to you? This visit, does she look clearly worse than your last visit? More tired, more pain, difficulty getting around? If not, that is also an good sign.

Fourth - Ascites that is stable and well managed with a drain is a good thing. You can sometimes have ascites that doesn't progress. Ascites is often caused by cancer cells that have spread to the abdominal cavity, and contribute to producing this fluid. My mother had those metastases at the time of her diagnosis, and with them, a small amount of ascites. But her ascites never really increased, and she never needed a drain.

Sometimes ascites is due to the the cancer, or blood clots caused by the cancer, slowing down blood flow in the blood vessels that drain the pancreas and liver.

Make sure you ask the doctors if the swelling in her legs could be due to a blood clot. This requires a simple test of her legs (ultrasound) to check, and they should always do this if one leg is clearly swollen more than the other. If she has a blood clot, they might give her a medicine to help treat the clot (a blood thinner - lovenox or fragmin), and these medicines can help protect her long term.

Does she have a Palliative Care doctor helping her now? If possible, I would recommend having this doctor work with her now, to help you answer your questions and help with all of the small (and big) day to day symptoms so your Mom can have the best quality of life. And they will help her live longer.

If your Mom has assistance with her, so that she is safe, so that someone can let you know if she gets worse, and that you trust, then it is fair to think about going back home and planning your next trip when you can.

We often cannot tell when the end is near, as many with PC will actually pass from a complication long before the disease itself would have taken them. Common causes of this are blood clots that spread to the lungs, and infections. These are unpredictable.

Do the best you can do, and trust your gut. But it is ok to take a break too.

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