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