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ask: end of life signals for pancreatic cancer patient

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My late wife went from operable to inoperable in a few months at the start of January 2013 and for the next 9 months always struggled to eat food but managed go out several times with her best friends.
The majority were expected to have failed to get past month 6 but she made month 12 and in the last week of her life unknown to myself she redecorated the kitchen on a day when I was out of the home.

The following day she told me to be a survivor after her days, keep an eye on our son, look after my sheep, take good care of the dog as its her that will attract the attention of the ladies when you put yourself out there. Remember that finding the happiness and love of a good woman again does not arrive on a plate, be alert and vigilant when out, stay to be the nice person I know you to be, watch the young ones, remember I was a low maintenance one, but I wont tell you whether to seek the new happiness or how to go about it equally I wont tell you not to seek it. She never asked me to take care of her 89 year old mother but I volunteered to do that in appreciation of our long marriage and to give her the commitment in front of our minister as that was the equivalent of a contract. No need for that she said as I know you are a man of your word and reliable and that's good enough for me.

In a few days she he had to go in to hospital with infection caused by the ninth cycle of chemotheraphy received a few days previously.
The treatment was being given to try to extend her life and she had previoussy had 4 bouts of infection requiring a week's stay in hospital each time. On this occasion I was phoned on the third day after admission to be told she had develooed peritonitis caused by either the mass growth, the chemotherapy or the drugs taken. The medics said it was inoperable and would take her life in 2-3days. Having fought off all objections I managed to get her home but because of a mistake in the final paperwork the ambulance went off half an hour before me. When she was set up in the bedroom our son who had been told to stay at home told her “ mum you have arrived home and Dad has done what he promised.She turned her head to look through a window overlooking some of our land and saw a few sheep grazing in nearby fields.That brought a smile to her face and she never spoke once for the next 18 hours.

I went through 25 years of family photograph albums and started falling asleep myself. I had a 20 minute break leaving the care nurse to oversee her and when I awoke up I got my son out of his bed. In two minutes she slipped away but I and our son held her hand before she died and that was another part of the promise made to her. in a minute there was the realisation that the good thing we had built togetherr lasting 39 years had finally come to an end and that it had happened on Christmas day of all days. God bless her soul.

Its never easy to predict when the end will come and each case is different but I followed my instinct and several people have told me I was lucky to have had her at home and to have succeeded in holding her hand.

August 13, 2015 - 10:47am
EmpowHER Guest

My mom who is 87 was diagnosed just over a month ago with pancreatic cancer. She has a blocked bile duct; a stent was attempted with no success. Chemo and radiation are not being considered. Mom is done with needles, procedures and hospitalizations. At this point she sleeps the large part of the day, struggles with nausea so her appetite is limited and she has no control of her elimination. It's difficult for her to get around; a trip to the bathroom exhausts her. She is afraid. I know you cannot predict her time, but I'm wondering if its days, weeks, or months. I live 4 hours away from her and am getting to her every weekend but I worry horribly when I'm not with her. Trying to figure out if I should take time from work now, or wait for a few weeks? Lost, and sad ...

July 10, 2015 - 1:25pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

So sorry to hear.
If you can, stay with your mom. My brother was diagnosed on June 15 and dropping everything and going to be with him was the best decision of my life, he died on June 21. It was a blessing to spend the last days with him.

August 12, 2015 - 10:51pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Hi there...so sorry to hear about your mom...is she still with you? My mom passed away from pancreatic cancer. X

July 27, 2015 - 5:20am
Maryann Gromisch RN Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hello Anonymous,

Welcome to the EmpowHER community and thank you for reaching out to us for guidance and support.

No one can predict how many days your mother has left. Live each day as if it is her last one. If I were in your situation, I would take a leave from work and move in with her.

Each minute is precious. Being there with her will give both of you peace of mind and comfort.

My thoughts and prayers are with you.


July 10, 2015 - 4:15pm
EmpowHER Guest

hi--my brother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2012--he had the whipple procedure and over the last 3 years has had appendectomy (in which they found small cancer) , heart catherization, peritonitis, and just been diagnosed with pleural effusion in april of this year-sent home with a permanent drain tube in his chest-they told him he had less than 6 months to live--the pc had spread into his chest cavity-in the past couple of weeks I have noticed that he is getting around slower and slower and eats less and sleeps more and when he eats, most of the time it makes him sick--and 3 days ago he told me that he had awakened to find someone (with a glow around them) holding his hand-and then he went back to sleep---he says that whether God heals him here or heals him in heaven, he is ready--but, i am not ready, I have already lost my dad(liver cancer), and another brother (young age of 50 had a massive heart attack)and now my big brother is facing death-this is a horrible disease and it has been hard to watch my big strong 6'2" brother deteriorate to a frail man of skin and bones--and be so sick all the time--I believe that he is in the transition between this world and heaven--I dreamed last week that he was standing at the end of the driveway, waving to me--it is hard to watch those you love go through so much sickness--I just pray that God will grant my brother his hearts desire and take him in his sleep and that he won't suffer-thanks for this message board

June 14, 2015 - 7:32pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Anonymous -This could be me writing your story about your brother. My big strong 6ft 2 brother of 67 years has had two chemotherapy programs after his initial major surgery and his doctors have now told him there is no point in proceeding further with it as it is having no effect and they do not wish to make him feel worse by his medication. The chemo has made his greying hair fall out in a day. He would like to do things with and for his grandchildren but is mostly too weak now as his weight has fallen away while we watch. He seems cheerful enough in his voice but the look in his eyes has changed. Where there was passion and compassion and much humour there is now a little boy lost and bewildered, which he cannot disguise no matter that he tries his best for all our sakes. I have told that I love him like life itself and will walk with him right up to the gate. What more can you do?

June 24, 2015 - 7:54pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hello, my mom hasas pancreatic cancer she is resting at home bu t can barely walk. She is so thin & fragile. My mom complains of a pain in her esophagus when she eats she is also vomiting. What can I do to help her? She is only 63

May 3, 2015 - 7:31pm
Maryann Gromisch RN Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hello Anonymous,

I can appreciate what you are going through. My mother was 63 years old when she died of leukemia.

If your mother is at home, considering calling Hospice. Hospice care offer services based on palliative care for the terminally ill. Nurses will visit and offer support to both you and your mother.

Talk with your mother's oncologist for advice on how to ease her pain.

Wishing you the best,

May 4, 2015 - 9:48am
EmpowHER Guest

I am sorry to learn of your recent trauatic experience and the predicament you find yourself in. My late wife was within a few months of having an operation to remove a growth on the pancreas and when we discussed the situation with the surgeon ( UK based where they have specialist pancreatic centres around the country) we were informed that it would involve a 6 month recovery and be possible to function with a reduced size pancreas and without the spleen with the aid of medication . With a short course of follow up precautionary chemotherapy they were predicting a life expectancy of 5-10 years but they had a few persons who had made another 15-25 years.

Unfortunately a sudden change in the development of the cancer meant it became inoperable so the fact that your relation has had the surgery is a good sign and bodes well for the future. I hope you will find the inner strength to be positive and strong for your relation.

April 18, 2015 - 1:37am
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