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Mum has Pancreatic Cancer... help

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Old 09-03-2006, 06:54 PM   #1
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sheilabe HB User
Unhappy Mum has Pancreatic Cancer... help

My mum has just been diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer- stage 2 apparently. They can't take it out because it has crossed the portal vein, did put in a stent to keep the bile duct open though so she isn;t yellow anymore.

For years now its been my dad that's been the ill one not Mum so this has come out of left field entirely. she is only 67 yrs and in otherwise great health. She has started chemo (Gemzar) and will be doing a 7 wk course of treatment once a week.

my question is... the statistics SCARE THE HELL out of me!!! what can i really expect from this cancer. The dr's are great but really without surgery what is the chance of a cure.... zero?!

I just want to find out if Mum will be here for her granddaughter's 2nd or 3rd B-day... and for her grandson's first day at school in a year and NOBODY is giving me anything but "well on average..." or " as a general rule..." come ON what is the worst case and also best case scenarios huh???

Thanks for letting me rant

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Old 09-04-2006, 11:10 AM   #2
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shnswms HB User
Re: Mum has Pancreatic Cancer... help

Hopefully the chemo will shrink it enough for surgery, particularly the whipple procedure. If it is contained in the pancreas that is alot better then having it already spread to other organs. Pancreatic cancer is usually deadly because it doesn't produce symptoms until its in the last stage 4. If they caught it at 2, it is alot better then the latter. Worst case is it spreads to the liver lungs or other major organs and leads to eventual death. Best case is chemo shrinks the tumor which allows for surgery. Also I think you should consider a second opinion at a major cancer center. Some surgeons say they can't operate, it doesn't mean another surgeon won't.

Old 09-08-2006, 07:33 PM   #3
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Mora HB User
Re: Mum has Pancreatic Cancer... help

The statistics are grim. I am very sorry to say the great majority of pancreatic cancer patients do not make it passed 6 months after diagnosis despite chemotherapy. Please look at the American Cancer Society website for info. as well as any Pancreatic Cancer Organization you can find on the internet. That is how I educated myself and my grandmother when we too were faced with doctors who were not willing to give a direct and honest opinion of what to expect to go through.

My dear grandmother who raised me tested with a high belirubin, she was jaundice. Off to the gastro doc we went. Then a cat-scan showed a narrowed bile duct and a mass at the head of the pancreas. Three days later she was scoped, a stent placed in the bile duct and a biopsy of the mass. It was inoperable. Off to the oncologist, and Gemzar 1x a week for 12 weeks...then a follow-up cat-scan to see if any improvement. Nanny lost nearly 40lbs. and on her 4 foot 11 frame she did not have it to spare. She was wasting, in a state of ketosis when the body breaks down muscle mass in order to keep the body functioning...I took her for the follow up scan after the 12th treatment. The mass had shrunk a tiny bit but it did not matter. She was wheel chair bound.
She could no longer bare the pain and was heavily medicated for comfort. She could no longer tolerate food and would throw it up.

She died at home in her bed the way she wanted to. It was a life changing experience for me. I watched her just waste away despite all efforts. She was burdened with agonizing pain and anxiety which was only calmed by fentenal patches, Lortab, morphin, xanex and then finally roxinol.

At the end, I was torn between wanting to talk to her because I knew she only had days to life, and needing to keep her medicated for comfort. She died 4 months and 4 days after her mass was found. I remember what she said to me on the way home from that first biopsy.

"But I don't feel like I have cancer"

Last edited by Mora; 09-08-2006 at 07:36 PM.

Old 09-10-2006, 03:20 PM   #4
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mikosha HB User
Re: Mum has Pancreatic Cancer... help

Although pancreatic cancer has very bad prognosis, I know a few people who survive it- one, my friend now 67, who was diagosed more than 10 years ago with stage 4- mets to her ovaries.She was cured by herbalist. The other person I know had unoperabale pancreatic carcinomar, had sucsessful chemo and is still fine after 3 years.
good luck,


Old 09-28-2006, 12:11 PM   #5
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hiltonqueen HB User
Unhappy Re: Mum has Pancreatic Cancer... help

I'm so sorry about your mom.
My mom died 4 months after she was diagnosed, but she was in stage 4 & developed a chest cold that prevented her from taking any chemo... not to mention that, at stage 4, it's pretty pointless. She died in 1999 & I still miss her dearly.

I can "listen" if you need to vent. Your family has a rough time ahead & I wish you all the best.

Old 09-28-2006, 02:16 PM   #6
Kathy Sue
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Question Re: Mum has Pancreatic Cancer... help

What are the symtoms can anyone tell me?

Old 09-30-2006, 11:58 AM   #7
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Newsome HB User
Re: Mum has Pancreatic Cancer... help

My mother died on Sept 14 1997 from pancreatic cancer. She had been having other medical problems at the time. She had sprained her ankle and then sat for a week or more with her legs down and an ice pack on her foot. Which she ended up giving herself frost bite and a blood clot. It was many months later I read somewhere that blood clots can be a symptom of this cancer. But otherwise she was fine. Desipte weekly follow up care, blood tests and medications, they didn't discover the cancer. A few days before she got pretty much what I would call "instant sick" she was painting the inside of the house, redoing her bedroom and just being herself. She loved decorating and changing her furniture around and creating new looks. She was good at it too. That's the trouble with some cancers, they really don't show any problems until it's far advanced. She was never jaundiced, or acted sick in the year prior to finding out. She had some unusal panic attacks during that time but I don't know if that could be related or not. I also noticed a couple of nights before that my mother had a really nasty cough. It was bad, never a sound I'd heard before and was rather scary sounding. But my mother had probably been smoking since she was 14 so she already had a smoker's cough which can sound pretty scary. We were always sure she'd get lung cancer, but that wasn't the case.

A few days later I came in to find her standing over the kitchen sink taking pepto bismal. She said she was constipated and she looked really noticebly ill. I thought maybe she was drunk when I first saw her.

The next morning my dad had to take her to the ER because she couldn't breathe. A couple days after that we were told she was terminal. A couple of days after that she was dead. About a week from her being sick to death. She was only 62.

I guess back then they didn't have some of the new great treatments they have for people like my step-sister who is a 2 time breast cancer survivor and a one time (so far) lung cancer survivor. So if my step-sister is still tearing up jack after all that surgery last Christmas I think there is a great hope...expecially in our time now for cures to cancer. And there are so many more options to choose from than traditional medicine as well. A combination of herbal and diet treatments along with traditional treatments do seem to work wonders for so many.

I personally feel like right now where cancer is concerned, we should have more hope than ever despite some of the grim statistics. Personally I have seen several people survive various cancers. The young, the old...even children are beating the worst of the chlidhood cancers now. And I really feel like my step-sister's positive (and ornry) attitude about her conditon is what has got her this far though all these physical attacks on her body. In fact, I think I find the need more for support over other people's cancers than the person themself.

Bottom line..never give up hope. Steel yourselves against the worst but always *expect* the best and never give up on treatments until the person themself is ready. My mom wasn't one of the survivors, no, but she lived a good life as a good person and I think she was ok with her fate at the end.

I really hope things work out for you. I remember how scary it is. But even if things don't go the way you wish, remember also that this can be a very dear and sacred time. We learn so much from our parents and grandparents. They teach us how to live with integrity and honor and they teach us how to die with dignity and grace. I hope when my time comes I can be as brave as my mom. She suffered from anxiety all her life. Mysteriously a few days before she passed, she became totally peaceful. The only few days of her life when she wasn't tore up with panic attacks.

I'll keep your family in my thoughts.


Old 10-01-2006, 03:53 PM   #8
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sheilabe HB User
Re: Mum has Pancreatic Cancer... help

Originally Posted by Kathy Sue
What are the symtoms can anyone tell me?
Hi Kathy Sue,
My Mum felt very tired for about a month of two, and there was a pain under her ribs(she terms it a sort of dragging feeling). She was unable to sleep or lyedown on her left side. She was more gassy than normal and that's about it.

Fortunately she has a Dr. who is a cancer survivour and who didn't treat her like a "old woman" who was worrying about nothing. Sent her for an ultrasound immed then when that showed a spot on the pancreas sent her to get a cat scan asap.

She is doing fairly well right now although the Chemo seems to be zapping her pretty bad at times. Her healer and accupuncturist are helping as well and she has discovered Boost and ensure will slip down easily if she's too tired to eat.

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