In May 2004, when she started complaining about pain in her stomach, I wasnít as concerned as I should have been because she had always been perfectly healthy. She was due to have eye surgery so when she went in for her pre-op physical we explained to the Dr. about the pain and he immediately became concerned. He said her eyes looked yellow and he wanted to postpone her eye surgery until they explored what was going on. After several different tests, that occurred over the next several weeks, we eventually had to go to the emergency room because the pain became unbearable for her. After they ran several more tests in the ER, the Dr. walked nonchalantly into her room and announced to us that she had a small tumor on her pancreas and they feared it was cancer. What? Was he kidding me? How could this be? I fell apart, and my Mom barely flinched. She calmly asked the Dr. what the next step was. I couldnít believe how calm she was. I knew what pancreatic cancer meant. My grandmother died at the tender age of 41 when my mom was only 9 years old, so I was terrified.
They admitted mom that day and after more tests, they said surgery couldnít be done and they gave her 3 months. Chemo and radiation were her only options. She was in the hospital for 2 weeks. They inserted a stint to do the job her pancreas wasnít doing and finally let her come home. My mom worked in the healthcare field for 33 years in the same hospital in Manhattan and decided she wanted to try to get her care from them. She had retired at age 58 to come to Georgia and be with me and my children. We were the most important things in her life and it killed me when she said she was going back to New York for treatment. I wanted her with me, but I knew she had to do whatever she could to fight this. So with a heavy heart, the day she was released from the hospital, we boarded a plane to New York. I stayed with her for a few days and she was admitted to the hospital that she had worked in for more than half her life. I cried almost the entire trip back to Georgia. I was so afraid that she would never be able to come home again. Mom started her treatment and I flew back and forth to visit every month. By November I started to become very frightened. Mom had been admitted to the hospital on two different occasions, for blood clots in her legs and also for a blood transfusion. It was very frustrating being so far away and getting all my information second hand.
With Christmas approaching, I began to discuss Mom coming home and continuing her treatments here in Georgia with me. I felt like I was being robbed of precious time with her, and every time the phone rang I was a wreck. My Mom was staying with two of her older sisters and I knew she was getting great care, she had already surpassed the Drís prediction of 3 months and was still fighting in month 7, I just missed her. On December 10th I got a call from my family in New York that Mom was back in the hospital. They had found a clot in her lung and wanted to insert an umbrella filter. Three days later I got another call that my Aunt, the one my Mom was staying with, was in the hospital. She also had started complaining about pain in her stomach and after it became unbearable went to the emergency room. On December 16th my Aunt passed away. We found out later my aunt also had PC, and she never even knew it. We were all in shock, and the debate over my mom coming home ended. She had no choice now. So after my Auntís funeral my mom flew home with me.
I felt like my Mom gave up after my Aunt died. My Aunt was like her mom. She raised her after her mother died. She lost all her fight when she returned to Georgia. I had worried how my children would handle seeing Grandma so sick, but they were awesome. They would hang out in her room with us and watch TV in bed with her. My oldest even helped me give her baths. She was so weak and frail I was sometimes afraid to touch her because she looked like she would break. One afternoon she fell while trying to go to the bathroom and as thin she was, it took every ounce of strength I had to get her back into bed. She never lost control of her bodily functions and with help still went to the bathroom. She never even used a bedpan. On February 26th she slept all day. She had refused to eat over the last couple of days and for the first time the realization that she wasnít going to make it, set in. I didnít realize how much in denial I was until she stopped eating. If she was eating I felt she would have strength to fight, but with no sustenance how could she? I was cleaning up when my oldest son came and told me ďGrandmaís fallen out of bed MommyĒ. I ran into her room and my daughter was on the floor cradling her grandmaís head in her lap. She was throwing up what looked like coffee grounds and was semi conscious. The 3 of us were able to get her back in bed and no matter what I did I couldnít get her to respond. I called 911. The paramedics rushed her to the hospital and after a few minutes they told me she was having trouble breathing and they wanted to put her on a respirator. She was also bleeding in her stomach and thatís what she was throwing up, old blood. They had a suction thing hooked up to her that was pumping the old blood out of her stomach, and blood hanging pumping blood back into her body. Everything was happening so fast I couldnít believe this. I told them to do whatever they needed to do I wasnít ready to let her go yet. They moved her to the critical care unit of the hospital and the Drís came and told me this would be her last hospital stay. Her body was shutting down and there was nothing they could do about it.
On March 1, 2005 my Mom passed away. It had been cloudly and gloomy that
whole day, but when my Mom departed this earth the sun suddenly came out.
It was as if she was telling me it was okay. I climbed into that hospital
bed with her and held her for dear life. I still wasnít ready to let her
go. Pancreatic Cancer is truly a monster. I pray for everyone on this
site that they your loved ones survive to see the medical community get
some kind of handle on this terrible disease. And for those of you like
me who have already lost someone I pray for peace, eventually.