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Pancreatic Cancer - What to do???

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I'm not sure if this is the right place to put this so mods please move if needed. My grandmother has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The doctors gave her 6 months - 1 year to live. I've been looking and researching but I haven't found any good information yet. Everything I see just says there is no hope, no cure, nothing to save you. From all standpoints she probably won't be alive by Christmas. I want to know if there is ANYthing that can be done that will actually help her. Does anyone here have any thoughts, words of wisdom, know of anything? I'm hoping with all the wonderful mamas here maybe someone has dealt with this type of cancer before. Please. I don't know where else to ask...
post #2 of 15
I'm so sorry your grandmother and your family has to go through this. I lost my motherat 60 to cancer "of unknown primary". My aunt highly suppects it was pancreatic. The life expectency is so short. My mother was diagnosed in my first trimester of pregnancy (with her first and only grandchild) and passed away by my third trimester. Depending on your grandmother's age and stage, there may be surgical options for her or chemo cocktails. Did they tell you what stage of cancer she has? Again, my heart goes out to you. Pancreatic cancer is a very tough diagnosis because it's usually not detected until stage 4, and which point treatment options are limited.
post #3 of 15
What does you grandmother want out of this?

When my grandmother had breast cancer fifteen years ago when Grandpa was alive, she had it treated and survived. When she got an abdominal cancer about three years ago after Grandpa had passed, she refused treatment. She was ready to join Grandpa.

I have read that the Whipple surgical procedure might have luck, but I don't know all the caveats for when it's an option.
post #4 of 15
I am so sorry. My grandmother died of pancreatic cancer. So did her brother. My best advice to you would be to stop looking for hope and cures. There are none. It's an awful cancer and it tends to take people fast, often faster than expected.

What you should concentrate on now is doing everything you can to make your grandma's remaining time meaningful. If there are family stories you've always wanted to get straight, sit down with her and a tape recorder. Do it now, before she starts to feel worse. Tell her how much you love her. Ask her to write a letter to your kids for them to read when they're older. Help her get her affairs in order, if there's no one else to do that. Visit often with your kids. Cook for her. Be with her. Make the time you have left together count.

For really terrific suggestions on interviewing/recording loved ones, check out these suggestions from StoryCorps:

post #5 of 15
I am so so sorry. My father died of pancreatic cancer 5 years ago. He had the Whipple + radiation + chemo. He ended up in remition for 5 years before it came back fast/hard. He died 6months later, right after his 57th bday.

It is a horrible, horrible cancer. As zinemama said, be with her now. Again, I am so very sorry.
post #6 of 15
The whipple procedure is horrible. I have taken care of the patients in ICU post-op and it is nothing nice. The patient is already sick with low reserves then to go through a major surgery....sometimes they don't recover from the surgery.

I totally agree with Zimemama....spend as much time with her as you can. My grandmother and uncle died of pancreatic cancer. I was living out of town and did not make it back in time to get the famous not written down recipes that she had cooked for me my whole life. She went much faster than we expected.

I'm so sorry. Make sure her pain is controlled and enjoy your time with her.
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your responses. I know there isn't much hope for treatment or cure with this but my grandmother is wanting to have the surgery, chemo, radiation, or anything her doctor can suggest. I want to make sure if she does it that she's getting the best treatment/help possible. I know the surgical procedures aren't very common for this and am really worried about her having a doctor that knows what he/she is doing.

Luckily affairs are mostly in order. My mom and I went over some of it yesterday. Everything my grandmother has has already (before all this) been put in my mother's name just in case and mom will be the one responsible for taking care of mamaw's affairs and wishes. A burial plot has been in place for some time along with a funeral planner and small burial insurance plan. We're going to have to work out a new schedule for caring for my great grandmother without my grandmother here and someone (mom or me) will need to care for my grandmother's two dogs (mostly mom right now as I have 2 littles I wouldn't trust around g-ma's beloved poodle and yorkie, of course I may need to take mom's large boxer oy!)

I think we have things mostly in order it's just painful. My biggest concern right now is making sure she gets the proper treatment and care if that's what she wants to do. I just don't know enough about pancreatic cancer to know what is going on and I'm trying to figure it out. I'm so so sorry for everyone else here who has lost family to this. Its awful.
post #8 of 15
It IS awful. My dad died eleven years ago from this. It was 2 months from diagnosis to passing. I ditto everything everyone has said. I also suggest the book "Final Gifts" by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley. This totally helped me.

I wish for you some peace and strength as you go through this and the best possible outcome for your grandmother.
post #9 of 15
My close neighbor died from pancreatic cancer about 4 years ago and it was FAST. I think it was 3 month for DX to the end. He was 'young' 58'ish at the time and choose to spend his remaining time at Hilton Head with his family on extended vacation.
post #10 of 15
My grandmother also passed away from pancreatic cancer a few years ago. She had throat cancer about 10yrs prior and was treated and it didn't come back. The pancreatic cancer took her very quickly... probably two months.

Be with your grandmother all you can. &hugs*.
post #11 of 15

My mom's best friend "Bobbie" died from pancreatic cancer. They were friends for over 20 years. From the time of diagnosis to Bobbie's passing was fast - less than a year. She had symptoms for a long time, but no one diagnosed her until it was too late. She made the most of her time after the dx. She spent time with her children and grandchildren, went on vacations with her hubby, and enjoyed her life as much as she could. She had several pain free uneventful months, and then things started to progress rapidly.

You mentioned your concerned about her doctor knowing what he's doing. Do you think your grandma should get a second opinion?
post #12 of 15
I'm so sorry. It's just a sucky, sucky cancer - and all cancers suck but this is just a particularly sucky one. My great-uncle died of it over 40 years ago and sadly, there really haven't been any real advances since then.

I agree with Angela - make sure her pain is controlled, especially as it ptogresses. Look into hospice services now, so you'll be all set with them when the time comes - they can be amazing.
post #13 of 15
I am so sorry. s

There is some cancer support information at livestrong.org, you may want to check it out.
post #14 of 15
Originally Posted by Dar View Post
Look into hospice services now, so you'll be all set with them when the time comes - they can be amazing.
I second this. These men and women are amazing. You might not think you will need/want them, but they can be extraordinarily helpful during your time of greatest need. Again, I am so sorry.
post #15 of 15
I also lost my mom to pancreatic cancer and I am facing losing my dad to cancer currently. Often times I feel so hopeless, but what I know about pancreatic cancer is this. My mom did quite well thru the whipple procedure. She lived for two years afterward and at the time(7 years ago), this was unheard of. I have also recently met a woman whose mom has been in remission for about 2 years plus and going strong. Please dont get me wrong, it is a horrible cancer, and I could stand to look at my own advice currently, but people are now living years (I think someone said five years on this thread) from a disease that used to kill everyone in literally a few weeks. It would be my hope that people start to stretch this even further. Again, I could take my own advice, so easy to be positive with someone else's family. Cancer just sucks so bad. Lots of positive thoughts for you and your family.
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