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My Mother, Margaret, was 82 when diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July of 1999. The symptom that finally led to hospitalization and diagnosis was jaundice. The drs told us 6 to 12 months, and we knew enough about the disease to quickly become realistic. The tumor prevented the implant of a stent, so Mother's wonderful surgeon did a flippee (bypass) to increase her comfort in the remaining months. After many prayers and soul searching, Mother chose no treatment, only palliative care. She was at peace with her decision and faced the end of her life with optimism and joy at the prospect of being with our Dad again. After a couple of rocky weeks recovering from the surgery, she bounced back and continued to live by herself until her passing. The months of August, part of September, October and November were happy. In October Mother enlisted the help of hospice to manage her care. They worked hard at keeping her comfortable, as much as she would let them. They could have done so much more for her, but she fought so hard to remain independent that she tied their hands in many ways. She was so afraid someone would come in and claim her unable to take care of herself and force her to move from her home that she cut both her children and hospice out of the loop, preventing much of the care we could have given her to keep her comfortable. The last few weeks were very difficult. Mother was becoming increasingly ill and in pain, when she finally let us in to help we had only a few days left to make her as comfortable as possible. My brother took amazing care of her, never flinched in any way over what needed to be done--bedpans, changing underwear, and all. I was her only daughter and was priveledged to be with her when she took her last breath. We miss her, she passed away January 8, 2000, but those of us with her those last few days and weeks take great comfort in knowing she is now at peace. No more pain, no more sickness. The advice I can give anyone facing this terrible disease is to continue giving the loved one as much decision making power as possible, only to change when the independence gets in the way of safety. If Mother had let us help sooner, we could have made her last weeks and days more physically comfortable. Use Hospice to their fullest potential, they are not just there for the patient but for the family too. There is so much they can do, so much strength they can give. God bless all of us that are out there fighting the good fight. Bring us strength and understanding, and most importantly, peace.

Posted 01/15/2000 01:50 pm by Penny
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