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Although cutting edge research gives me reason for hope, pancreatic cancer is the fourth most deadly cancer known and THE most horrible and personal disease to me. Two years ago, I lost my mother to this awful cancer at the young age of 63. After weeks of not feeling well, I was finally able to convince my mother to seek medical help.

After one, short hour, we found that she had pancreatic cancer in the later stages. Her options were surgery, with very little chance of successful removal, or radiation and chemo with even a slimmer chance of success. The two options may have allowed her a week or two, maybe even a month; but the treatments would offer her horrible side effects. So, on the day before Christmas, instead of living what little life she had left in pain, she made the choice to forgo any treatment at all.

Not knowing exactly how much time she had left, for about the next two weeks, she visited friends and traveled to warm places to golf. At this point, the disease started to really take hold of her. I started a webpage on CaringBridge.org so that family and friends could see regular updates and post comments and memories they shared with my mother. I will cherish these posts always.

Three weeks after diagnosis, I closed my business and daily traveled four hours to stay with her. My children were back in school and stayed with their father until I arrived back home. I kept it up for one week. Her condition rapidly deteriorated at the four-week mark. My mother had always wanted to have a family portrait (e.g., me, my two kids, my brother, his wife and son, and her), but she always put it off, wanting to lose a bit more weight, change something with the house... there was always something about which to procrastinate. So, during that fourth week, we had the family portrait taken.

By this time, I was staying with her full-time and we had hospice care to offer pain management, comfort, and wonderful support for both me and my mother. I could tell that her health was dropping rapidly. To pass the time, we took care of finances, bank accounts, dividing household items between me, my kids, and my brother's family, talked for hours, told stories and reminisced. We argued. We laughed. We shed many tears. Knowing my passion for dragonflies, she promised to come back as one as soon as she was able. As I write this, I can hear my mother's words ring in my ears: "it is what it is, let's make the best of it." And we did. As hard as it was, and knowing what was ahead, we still laughed and made the best of it.

The last week was the hardest, yet I laughed the most during this time. She had illusions or, more appropriately, delusions. She would see things and get upset with me because I couldn't see them as well. She would yell at me... cry... shake her fists... tell me I was the worst "babysitter" she had ever had. (LOL) I thought, "I'm doing my job then." She would see her long-passed mother, father, and older brother, talking to them as if they were right next to us. I heard so many of her wonderful memories with them during that time; stories I would never had heard if I hadn't been there with her. At the end of the fifth week, January 30th, I called my brother and my mother's best friend to tell them I thought they better come soon. Mom waited until they both arrived and were settled. As they dug into the fridge and checked emails, and as I was on the phone with my kids, my mother closed her eyes. I remember having a feeling that made me turn completely around and look at her, telling my son I needed to get off the phone. I hung up and took two steps to her side. She looked at me and said: "Whomever comes into contact with you will have been kissed by an angel." (Hence, my screen name "angelkisses.") She passed away a few, short minutes later, tightly holding my hand.

As I posted to caringbridge.org a few hours after mom left us:

Sometimes I get lonely,

and thinking about you helps

reminding me that there is

a person

I cherish so very much

always close in spirit

even when you're

so far away.

But sometimes it hurts even more

to think of you...

your laugh, your touch

and to remember just

how much I'll miss

your gentle face

your tender ways

your presence in my life.

God Speed mom! I love you

In 2010, it is estimated that 43,000 will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and 37,000 will die from it. Pancreatic cancer is one of the most difficult tumors to detect and diagnose early. In most cases, symptoms develop after the cancer has already spread. As a result, diagnosis is frequently made when the cancer is in advanced stages. There are usually few noticeable signs to alert a physician of the early stages of pancreatic cancer.

If your family has lost a loved one to pancreatic cancer or knows someone who is battling it, I encourage you to write about it. Please share your experiences, words of encouragement, suggestions, and/or thoughts. It will take a few minutes and YOU can make a difference right now.

I hope you will also visit some of these sites for more information on this deadly disease:


Pancreatic Cancer Action Network



Original posting by angelkisses on Sep 18, 2010 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=328

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