Here is the timeline: Mom and my stepfather went on a cruise in October of 2007 and mom fell ill upon returning. She was admitted to the hospital and ended up staying for over a week due to dehydration, etc... But the doctor felt it was more than an illness from the cruiseline. From that time until her diagnosis in December, my mother just never felt right and made several trips to the doctor or ER. And she was having stomach pains all the time. After visiting with doctors, she was told it could be Acid Reflux or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Her diet was changed a bit to see if her symptoms would subside. They were less but did not go away. When it got to the point where I was really concerned was during our trip to Bethesda, MD at the National Eye Institute. Mom had a rough time after every meal. I made her promise she'd look into it when we returned home. Our flight home was Tuesday, Dec. 11. I took Wednesday, Dec 12 off. It had been a long trip for both of us and with all the tests I underwent, my eyes were a mess. Mom and I met for lunch on Wed. and afterward she really did not look or feel well. She was going to go home and lay down. I received a call late that night saying she was headed to the ER to see what could be done. A couple hours later she called and said that nothing could be found other than her bowels were acting up so she was sent home. By Thursday morning, she was really ill, vomited, had bloody stools and fainted. My stepfather, Rick, rushed her to the ER where her story unfolds.
I was at work and had no idea they were back at the hospital until after a few hours. So much was going on that mom nor Rick had a chance to call anyone. I had called the house and there was no answer so I left a message just checking to see how she was. About 30 min later my phone at work rang and our world changed forever. Mom told me that she needed me to remain calm and I instantly began to panic. She said, 'Kerri, they did a ct scan and they think I have pancreatic cancer.' I nearly fainted myself. A coworker called my husband and asked him to pick me up and take me to the hospital. When Steve and I arrived at St. V's, we entered the Oncology wing and my heart sank.
December 13 we were told Pancreatic Cancer. B/c schedules were hectic and doctor's were in and out, mom had to be kept over the weekend and a biopsy couldn't be done until Monday the 17th. Come Monday, the biopsy was performed and though we had to wait until Friday for the results to be given to us by the Oncologist, preliminary results were 'cancerous cells'. So, what seemed like eternity, we waited for Friday's meeting, December 21. Dr. Oskarson delivered the gut-wrenching news, Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer indeed. My mother sat there the entire time as if in DEFENSE mode. I knew then the cancer was going to have a hard time within her body by golly! Mom and Rick showed amazing courage and strength. January 1, we traveled to Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion, IL. Mom began chemotherapy and every 28 days, we traveled to IL for the treatment. Most recently, the tumor has shown great response to therapy and 0 tumor markers! However, the CEA came back just 2 weeks ago. It had risen from 2 to 6. Meaning that the cancer in the mesentery must be progressing b/c it was not responding to chemo like the tumor was. The liver spots are completely gone. She is now on Xeloda for 14 days and will return to IL every 21 days if Xeloda is working for the mesentery.
Along with SO MANY others, we are traveling a very rough road. Side effects, medicines, supplements, weight loss (30 lbs thus far), insomnia, anxiety, vomiting, diarrhea, heartache, crying, shouting, struggling, and then some...are a lot of the things we now know very well. But there is always HOPE and we cling to it. My mother is a fighter. And she is my hero!
We keep our faith in front of us, remain positive because this is in God's hands. We pray for a miracle in her healing and we know God is with us every step of the way. We are optimistic and hopeful. Stephanie's prayer chain is steadfast. Our faith is unwavering. God Bless!