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Many (most?) of us don't learn about our pancreatic cancer until it is advanced or spread, so most of us also start with chemo. It isn't fun, but for many of us it can be effective and can provide improvement in symptoms, time, and for some.... quite a bit of time to still live our lives.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your father? Whether or not to consider treatment depends a lot on each person's circumstance, and their strong personal preferences.
How old is your father? How is his health, generally? How was the cancer discovered? Is it causing any symptoms now? What?
My mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the age of 67. She was very healthy and active with no other major medical issues at that time. We only discovered the cancer after she developed symptoms of arm weakness. A CT scan showed cancer everywhere. We were shocked. At that point, the cancer in her pancreas was huge, and had spread all over her body (the peritoneum... like your Dad.... as well as her liver, pelvis, lungs, spine and more). In retrospect, her long standing fatigue and depression were likely symptoms of the cancer that had worsened over the past couple years. Who would have guessed?
My mother had chemotherapy. Not the most aggressive chemo that they are doing now with 3 chemo combinations (this works the best), but taking 2 chemos at a time. She lived for another 16 months, and was still walking and eating until the day before she passed. We were lucky, maybe your father would be too? He has much, much less disease than my mother. You never know unless you try. It is an unpredictable disease though.
Do I think my Mom would do chemo again, if somehow we could travel back in time, after having experiencing it? She did ask herself 'what is the point', when the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer seemed so scary? Well..... she gained more time that she used to visit with family and friends, reminisce with loved ones and see her grandchild grow up, eat favorite foods and do favorite activities. We all came together as a family, and while it was an awful, scary, stressful time - it was also precious.
I strongly encourage you to talk with your father about what he wants and his fears, and let him guide things. Treatments for pancreatic cancer are not where we would like them, and we are hoping for new discoveries, but I do believe they are coming. If he wants to try chemo, support him and get to the best pancreatic cancer oncologist in a major university medical center you can find.
And whether he starts chemo or not, ask if a Palliative Care doctor is available to work with cancer patients. These doctors help treat the quality of life symptoms - things like fatigue, pain, sleep, appetite, nausea and more. These are the most important things day to day. These doctors can be so useful, and in some cancer centers that will work with you if your are on chemo or choosing not to pursue aggressive treatment.
Regardless, if his mood is low, let him know that one of the earliest and most common symptoms of pancreatic cancer is depression. It is actually part of the disease, and needs to be treated just as aggressively as any other symptom like pain or nausea. Medications can be very effective. Makes sure this is treated, otherwise.... what's the point? Life is precious while you have it, so do what you can to make your dad's as good as possible.
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