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JANICE CRISTIAN




My Mom was diagnosed at the age of 53. Diagnosis came after almost a year of going to doctor after doctor. Doctors telling her it was 'in her mind', 'to go get a job', 'she was bored'. Finally, an ultrasound of her gallbladder showed 'something' on her pancreas. A follow up CT Scan suggested Pancreatic Cancer with mets to the liver. It was confirmed adenocarcinoma of the Pancreas with mets to the liver. In a matter of a couple weeks my mother's life had turned upside down. They met with a surgeon who said surgery was not an option. She had a 3.5 cm mass in the tail of her pancreas and multiple lesions in her liver, the biggest being 6 cm. They met with an oncologist who confirmed our worst fear. There was no cure, treatment was only palliative with the smallest hope of slowing it or stopping the growth. Without treatment we were told only 10% made it through the first year, with treatment, 40 percent. We had ultimately thought that Mom would be that 40%. But after being sick for over a year--her 'fighting' strength was not what it would of been had she been diagnosed earlier. Up until now the pain was managed with Motrin, but she was soon put on Vicodin. Mom didn't want to take the pain meds until she felt pain, but the oncologist told her it was important to stay ahead of the pain. She started 25 treatments of radiation, with 5fu once a week. She was very very tired, she still ate, but had a hard time with certain foods. She maintained her weight very well. In November, my Dad took her to ER for extreme pain. They admitted her to the hospital with the hope of getting her pain under control. They put a morphine pump on her so they could see how much she needed and then would prescribe that amount in pill form. She was also given an anti-inflammatory which seemed to help more then the pain meds. She was at a pain level of 10--they ordered at CT Scan of her gallbladder, that came back fine. Ultimately they figured the radiation had caused some damage. She was put on the duragesic patch at 50 mg, Roxanol for breakthrough--and finally sent home after more then a week. Her surgeon didn't even know she was there after the first 3 days. When Mom came home, the pain seemed better under control. I live in CA and Mom and Dad and brother in Michigan, so I was able to go home in Thanksgiving to see Mom. That was the last time I saw her functioning and still able to do things. She went through treatment bravely. The plan was too do this treatment and then start Gemzar after the radiation was out of her system because we were told the two together were extremely toxic. There were many days where Mom couldn't even get out of bed. On Jan. 15, 2001, they had an appointment with the oncologist, who scheduled a follow up CT Scan on the 31st. A scan of her Pancreas, Liver, Abdomen in general, bone scan and brain scan. Mom still sounded okay. On Feb. 15, 2001, the results were in. While it had grown, not by a significant amount, and it hadn't spread to any other organs. We thought we were on the right track. The next two weeks proved us wrong. Mom started Gemzar the week Feb. 19, 2001. She was never the same after that treatment. She slept almost 24 hours a day, didn't eat, drank very little. We didn't know if it was an affect of the treatment or the fact that Mom was losing this battle and fast. On the 23rd of Feb. Dad called me and said I'd better come home. Mom had vomited bile that morning and the oncologist wasn't expecting her to last more then a couple of days. Everything went into overdrive.... I got there the following day, sent my son off with my in-laws and went to see Mom. I was not prepared for what I saw. Mom was laying down, very jaundice, just worn out. I saw such relief in her eyes when she saw me. She was unable to walk by herself, we had to help her everywhere. That day we moved her into the bedroom, and she never came out. The next five days were the longest I have endured. To watch my mother go through some much emotionally, mentally, and physically was awful. Through Sunday Mom was still drinking, but she hadn't eaten for a week. She would be awake to call for us, or talk to us for a minute, but not much more then that. Dad and I would go into the bedroom and tell her we would be okay and that she had to let go. We couldn't bare to see her like that. Her ascites had her looking like she was carrying twins at 9 months of pregnancy. Her bloodpressure was dropping, yet the pulse was high. Her extremeties began 'modeling'. We knew the end was near. We called Hospice in on Monday and they confirmed our thoughts. She had a most a few days. We increased her duragesic patch because she was asking for roxanol every two hours. She was only taking ice chips now. Her breathing was very labored--sometimes taking 20 seconds to take a breath. We had finally gotten a hold of my brother, his cell phone had stopped working. We were all there with her. Through Monday she was still up every two hours going to the bathroom, when we would take her. We did get a port-a-potty so it would make it easier on me and Dad. We kept her clean, her hairbrushed, clean sheets, and out of pain. Mom didn't want to be resucitated-and she didn't want to go to the hospital. Tuesday another Hospice nurse came out and she had ordered a hospital bed, saying this could go on for 21 days or more. We prayed that Mom would be able to let go. Dad slept with her Tuesday night between 9 and 12--her breathing was getting worse, her extremities turning blue and cold because her blood was trying to keep the major organs going. Her body was shutting down. She hadn't gone to the bathroom since Tuesday morning. She hadn't woken up since 3 p.m. Dad came to bed in the living room (that's where we slept so we could get to Mom), at midnight. I woke up at 2:20 a.m. Wednesday morning, Ash Wednesday and Mom was gone. We had lost her to this awful disease. It took everything out of her-- Mom is dearly missed. I'm only 28, Mom only 53, and it seems so unfair. I try to tell myself at least I had her for 28 years--some don't have parents at all. But, at the same time, I don't have a mother to share things with anymore. She won't see her grandson grow up, she won't see him play baseball. While I know she's in my heart--but I do wish she were still here with us. I don't know if this is what the bio board was for--but I believe people do need to know the reality of this disease, and this was very real for our family. My Mom was a vibrant, busy, happy, loving woman, who has been taken from us. Janice Cristian, loving wife of 32 years, loving mother of Jennifer and Jon, wonderful gramma of CJ, sister of David and Michael, daughter of Leon and Lillian. A woman loved, a woman cherished, a woman missed. I love you Mom--- 8/30/47-2/28/01--


Posted 03/19/2001 01:08 am by Jen-Daughter of Adored Mother
E-mail Address: jujubeanluv@yahoo.com

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