***UPDATE… As of August 3, 2022, unfortunately my Mom’s battle came to an end. She was so excited when I participated in the Purple Stride walk in April 2022. She was unable to join me as she was bedridden at that time. I stood by her bed and promised her that I would continue to do the walk each year in honor of her, all of the families, and survivors dealing with this devastating disease. I know my Mom will not be physically here with me but her Purple Heart will always be connected to mine and she will be an angel smiling down on the day of the walk cheering me on. Her courageous journey will always live on in my heart forever.
Please feel free to read my mom’s story below.
I would love to share my Mom’s courageous Pancreatic Cancer journey with you…
My whole life my parents always instilled these strong words, “Be grateful for every day, we never know what tomorrow may bring.” This quote never resonated with me as much as it did this past year.
In May 2021, out of the blue, I noticed my mom’s skin color was turning yellow so I encouraged her to make an appointment with her doctor. She took my advice and the doctor ordered blood work and a cat scan. As the days passed she became more and more jaundice, ending up in the hospital. This was the start of what we didn’t know, the long and tough road ahead for my mom and our family.
The doctors concluded from the scan that her bile duct was blocked by what they believed was a mass near the pancreas not allowing the bile to pass through properly. Her bilirubin level increased to a concerning number, which meant the radiologist had to perform a surgical procedure administering a biliary drainage bag to help her bilirubin level come down to a lower, safer level. The doctors were 95% sure that this was Pancreatic Cancer. I vividly remember the oncology team visiting my mom in her hospital room, explaining everything and my mom saying “But it could be benign?” They answered “At your age (76) it’s usually malignant unfortunately.” I didn’t know what to say. The room got quiet and my body turned numb as I was trying to hold back the tears from rolling down my cheeks. I knew that if I started to cry I wouldn’t be able to stop. I needed to stay strong for my parents. I cannot even imagine how my mom was feeling let alone my dad, when they heard the doctors response.
By August 2021, she had the biopsy confirming Pancreatic Cancer. This is when these devastating words turned our world upside down. We then realized the difficult journey ahead….
During the months going forward, my mom persevered through three of the four twenty-one day cycles of aggressive chemotherapy which had many challenging side effects. These side effects sent her to multiple trips to the ER which many times led to numerous days in the hospital. As she fought through battling dehydration, fainting, a blood clot, pneumonia, sepsis, transfusions, UTI’s, an internalization, and so much more. She never gave up and and she became a true “WARRIOR”. She strived to come home to continue her journey.
By November 2021, my mom ended up in the hospital longer than we expected. She stayed for about four weeks while her body became weaker and weaker. The hospital finally released her to a nursing home for rehab. She tried to become mobile but with the swelling of her legs, a fractured spine, and all of the other challenges, it became extremely difficult. We all agreed that she would be much happier and comfortable at her own home especially with her favorite holiday approaching which was Christmas. Although she didn’t quite get home by Christmas, but finally made it home two days later. My mom always made her home magical during the Christmas holiday season. Usually entertaining the entire family. So we had a hospital bed set up on the bottom level of her home and my incredible dad took on the responsibility of fully taking care of my mom. We are truly thankful for my dad. He has been our angel!
My mom continues to do physical therapy as she still is immobile, but wants to get back to doing what she loves, taking care of my dad and her family. My mom defines the word “WARRIOR”!
Although there is always a worry in the back of my mind of what is going to happen next, or how her story will end, so I will carry hope for a miracle while simultaneously holding space for the idea we could soon be in our last days. It feels like a bad dream that I can’t wake up from. I don’t know if I’m setting myself up for a huge devastation if the miracle does not occur. One moment at a time because “We need to be grateful for every day, we never know what tomorrow may bring.”