I thank those of you for replying to my previous questions. I would warn anyone who still HAS hope for themselves or a relative with pancreatic cancer that the following is not very encouraging and may not be very helpful for you if you still have options...
My 59 year-old mom has yet to begin cancer treatment. In my opinion and the opinion of health professionals I've talked to, her pancreatic cancer was allowed far too much time to develop before it was even detected. She had been on morphine for almost 3 months, was diagnosed first with diverticulitis and then pancreatitis, and was on a long waiting list to see a specialist. Even though my wife and I suspected cancer months ago, my mother's doctors assured us that there was no sign of cancer... even after she had lost about 30 lbs!
Anyway, things have gone so fast. After waiting for a second biopsy and now for oncologists to admit her to the local cancer centre at last, she is to go in for her first appointment today. My feeling is that it is far too late...
She weighs perhaps 80 lbs (from a healthy 150), is barely coherent and constantly drugged heavily on morphine to keep the chronic pain at bay, has been subsisting primarily on small portions of yogurt and whey powder for a week or so (and little more than that for about 1-2 months). She can barely talk or lift her head, needs help getting from the bedroom to the bathroom, and sleeps (finally) for 12-16 hours a day. In the last few days, I've been informed by a relative that her condition has begun deteriorating much faster in the last few days.
Is this what the end looks like? I mean, I cannot imagine her suffering like this much longer, and I now find myself wanting to receive the phone-call saying that my mom has passed. Does anyone here have experience with losing someone to this disease, and if so, do you think she is on the brink? Or does it possibly get even worse than this... something I cannot even begin to fathom? What signs will indicate that the worst is nearly passed and that the end is near?
Hi Steve...there is a great post further down the page that you may or may not have seen. It's called "The End - Thoughts on a Loved One Dying". The person who wrote this seems to have some experience with this, and there are many replies to that post as well. Have you seen it? Thought I would let you know about it, just in case.
Again, so sorry to hear about what your mom and your family are going through.
Oh dear, your post really was hard to read. The end isn't always like this for every cancer patient, but it sure is one brutal and cruel experience when it does go downhill like you've described your Mom.
I do know of someone else who spent a lengthy period of time before they finally got a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Heck, my own father didn't have his liver cancer diagnosed until the night before he passed. Some of these cancers are so difficult to pin down. I'm sorry that it went this way for your Mom.
As for lingering? There are specific signs that the end is imminent and I had a link about that posted a long time ago. Maybe I can find it, but if you're not right there, it won't much matter as it's a critical assessment of color, warmth, breathing, etc.
My mother was in bad shape at the end with ovarian cancer. A final surgery that never healed and most of her small intestines literally fried from strip radiation left her with no exit route for her digestive tract. She had a pump that removed the contents from her stomach running at all times in the final 4 weeks. She also didn't heal, so she had an unbelievable amount of pads on top of an essentially open lower abdomen. She kept going, even though her blood pressure would be 40/20 at times. She had an incredible will to live and told me, the night before she passed, that she really needed to start eating more and get up. Such a dear soul.
At some point, realistically, the morphine dosage will have to be upped to handle your Mom's pain. That is essentially how my mother passed finally. The morphine, although I insisted on a low dose, also put my husband unconscious. It can be a number of things that actually are what takes her. Both my husband and my father's kidneys shut down. That was a huge red flag that the end was within hours.
(sigh) I know where you are at exactly. You've reached the point where you are now praying for God to take her home instead of giving her a miracle. That's okay. You obviously don't want to see her suffer anymore. They decline and then oh so quietly, they just go home to God.
Although there are physical signs, it is God who knows when it is the time.
I pray you have peace and that your mother has comfort for her pain.
God bless you all. My heart goes out to you.
Husband diagnosed with NSCLC Stage IV in 3/2005. Fought & lived over 2 1/2 years with multiple lines of treatment.
Left my embrace to live with our Heavenly Father in October of 2007 and now breathes with ease forever. I will miss this gentle, giving soul with the easy smile for the rest of my days, but have faith we will be together again. He's just getting a little break from me!
steve-I feel bad anout your mom. The best thing would be for her to be pain free and at this point sounds like it wont be too much longer- signs are in succession-mottling of lower limbs from decreased blood circulation labored breathing, bluish ring around the mouth,intermitting breathing,ears pin back towards head rhales(the rattling breathing sound and last breath ) The person is usually unconscious before these signs occur.especia;lly on pain med. I hated giving te graphics but I watched my aunt go.she had alzheimers these are last 24hours usually.. Ill pray for pain free peace.
April06- Emergencysurgery,exploratory,10units blood,largetumor and 10inches of colon removed,temp.colostomy.diagnosed stage IV colon.
Oct06-radiation,surgery,several lymphs,cervix,1 ovary,fallopian,40% remaining colon,large tumor to adipose tissue,appendix,gallbladder removed.permant colostomy/iliostomy
surgery-1/3liver,partial diaphra, removed clipped and questionable spots oblated.
port-port rejection-port removed 1week.
Oct-08-surgery-remaining ovary engulfed in tumor,partial bone scrape.
transfusion central line TPN 1 month.
oct-09-surgery tumor ,colon and jejuneum removed.
xeloda reduced. severe dehydration,heart attack.
mar-11 return to original site-oxyplatin,5fu
dec-30-back to chemo erbitux camtosar
Jan-16 injections neulasta and aranesp
feb 21-Tumor found stomach,liver, and liver "hot spots" inflamed lymph in rt ureter in kidney causing obstruction-surgery schedualed Mar 16.
march 16/12-no more kidney obstruction not lymph ...dehydration is causing blockage, two litters blood for anemia, stomach liver tumor small-med,abalation, 1 hidden tumor deep in muscle mass on side flank(hid from scans) -gone!
starting a regimine of celebrex
aug/30-12 discontinued celebrex -failure one kidney. needed to see urologist
sept/10-12-good urologist report one kidney functioning well for now.
oct/23/12-chemo pill Stivarga(regorafenib)
dec/18/12-blood transfusion chemo pill dosage cut back to 1 pill.
Feb/21/13 neulasta injection
Feb/22/13-blood transfusion. still taking stivarga.
mar/20/13-arenespt injection rehydration and magnesium IV
mar/21/13-acute renal failure-kidney infection
april/1/13.-recovery from 4 day coma infection cleared/4 units blood/ off stivarga/starting rehab therapy,
swollen hand no apparent reason black spots in vision off and on. both cleared up.
may/22/13-home oxycodone for pain shoulder neck arm
june/1/13 pain subsided off oxy onto aleve
june/09/13-pain back off aleve on vicodin
june 10/13-cancer in back/neck- starting radiation for arm neck and shoulder pain.
june24/13-last day of radiation-on steroids
july1/13-swollen legs and feet-lasix off steroids still on vicodin and xanax
july 23/13 vicodin cut in half blood transfusion.
sept/6/13-off all pain meds since late aug
scan results fracture in spine mid back
sept/12/13-spine healing on its own,weaning off steroids, no visible tumors.
nov/7/13-edema both legs and one arm on lasix since oct.
nov/21/13- leg edema subsiding still alot in one arm- she is talking but keeps her eyes closed. achy but no major pain. nurse and aide to visit once a week schedualed. having trouble standing.
nov/24/13-sadly but peacefully moms cancer journey is at an end, she will start her new spiritual journey together hand in hand with dad.
Thank you, Debbie, PBJ, and Sheila for your kind words. It means a lot to hear from some people who've experienced what I am going through. I am staying with her now for a week, and she is very gaunt and weak, but doing slightly better than I described. The thing is her will to live is great, even though the cancer specialists basically told her to go home and get comfortable for her passing. I guess eventually we all have to learn to "let go".
Again, your thoughts and prayers are all very much appreciated.
they should have put her in the hospital and done tests as soon as she had panreatitus.I had the symptoms august 8 2009 right after patrick swayzee died from it.they treated me for acid reflux but also took blood tests.the next day they called and my amylase and lipase was sky high and they said I had pandreatitus and I needed to go to the hospital.the hosptial did an ultra sound and cat scan and nothing showed up but they knew I had panreatitus but did nothing else but told me to see my doctor.that took another week for an appointment only to tell me I needed an appointment and another week to see a gasterenterologist.he sends me back to the same hospital a week later to have an mri done which they didnt do the first time.of course it showed a mass at the head of my pancreas.a week later the biopsy showed it was cancerous and mets to the liver.I was then stage 4 and told I had 3 months to live and sugguested a clinical trial.I agreed and when they said it would start in 3 weeks I said forget it.I got 3 months to live at the most and I have to wait 3 more weeks.I started gemzar and tarceva instead but changed my diet before starting.no more meat,processed food,sugar,only poultry,seafood,fresh fruit,green vegetables.almond milk,flax seed oil.Its now 21 months since my first symptoms.I was off chemo the last six months through march but the end of march my ca 19-9 went back up over 37 so in april I started back on chemo.did they do a ca19-9 test.Its hard to detect because they always start at the cheapest and simplest diagnosis.just like a car whith problems with engine.they start with the battery and move on.If they would have done a ca19-9 test in the hospital the first time,It would have been found at least a month earlier.