Pancreas Cancer Web


My mom, age 80, started having odd traveling sort of back and abdominal pains in April 98. By May she was having light colored stools and tea colored urine. Then the itching starting. At that point she turned yellow and we took her to the hospital. She had laproscopic surgery done to place a stent in her bile duct in order to relieve the jaundice. She was hospitalized for a week. At that time they did many tests to look for what was causing the blockage. Eventually the Gastroenterologist said it was cancer of the pancreas. I called him to ask him what he saw and what he thought about it. He said there was no doubt as she had elevated blood markers at 8400 at that time. And of course he saw it. Stage IV-Inoperable. Coincidentally this is the GI that has been treating me for Ulcerative colitis for 10 years. He is very good.On mothers Day the oncologist came and we talked with him about treatment options. Monday the replaced the plastic stent with a metal one. My mom couldn't see the point in being more miserable if she only had 6 months to live. This is what the GP told her. The Gi said-"She could live for 3 days, she could live for 3 years. There is no way to tell. There are too many factors that even Drs don't know about." I started feeding her positive info about the disease that I got from this Panc-Onc list and here. Anyway we told the onc my mothers fears as she just wasn't talking. He calmed many of them and suggested that she have 5 weeks of radiation with 3 days of 5-FU chemo in the beginning and then again at the end of the 5 weeks. She took Zofran every day and had no nausea during the treatments. The biggest problems were constipation, extreme fatigue and no appetite. Vicoin helped the pain. She was pretty miserable but we tried like heck to keep her spirits up. We sent flowers, My boys made little funny gifts everyweek, I did her laundry and cooked, sent her CD's, books and all the things she told me she needed like nightgowns for the sweats. My brothers handled insurance and many other things. We went to every appointment that involved the Dr. I called the Dr for her whenever she had any sort of worry or complaint. I would fax him before an appointment so we could make the most of the time. Going there everyday left both my parents exhausted. She felt her worst the two weeks after treatment stopped. That's when she had nausea also. When we went for the marker test 4 weeks after the treatments stopped her markers were at 147. This alone made her feel better. 4 weeks after that the markers were down to 74. We have another one of these in Dec. The onc. thinks they will continue to fall. During that 8 weeks my mom had a some nausea, still had fatigue and lack of appetite. In April she weighed 130 she got down to 95 lbs after treatment and is now at 111. She had swollen feet and ankles which were not clots in her case. They were realted to dehydration and her body tissues retaining salts. She developed gastritis from taking so many meds and the radiation.The gastritis is controlled with Prilosec, she takes Pancreas, a compazine before dinner(I think it's more psychological for her.) She takes 6 Vicodin a day for back and stomach pain related to damage of the celiac plexus nerve from the tumor. She gets a B-12 shot every month. We get everything from the onc. They are wonderful. Needless to say we are very greatful that she is getting this reprieve. We were told she'd have quality of life and so far so good. She's doing everything she used to do. Her digestive system is more sensitive than it was because of the radiation they tell us. But not bad. Especially compared to mine. =) Her next step when and if the tumor acts up again is Gemzar treatments -one day a week for three weeks and a week off. We have already discussed hospice care and any other thing she worries about with the onc. I talk to her and relay her fears and he calms them. It's worked well for us. My goal is to keep her happy and feeling needed and wanted and as stress free as possible. I try to indulge her as much as I can and validate her fears and anxiety in hopes of minimizing them. Passing on posts from here during the treatment phase helped in ways that were just priceless in minimizing fear and giving her confidence in the treatments. I'm the youngest and only daughter. I'm 45 and my 2 brothers are 51 and 48. My Dad is still living and is the caregiver at home-He is 81. We have a lot of humor-sometimes gallows-but humor nonetheless. It helps a lot. I have 2 sons 7 and 11. The only grandchildren-and they help a lot too in keeping her spirits up. Last week she was taking care of my Dad who had a phlebitis flare up. I said, "So how are you feeling?" She says, "Great!" and we all just cracked up as this is something we never expected to hear again. We are very greatful, to God, to the Drs and technicians, to our family and friends, to researchers everywhere, to pharmaceutical companies, to medicare... Heck we're just greatful that she didn't go through all that for nothing. =)

Posted 10/19/1998 01:45 am by dagmar
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