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ask: end of life signals for pancreatic cancer patient

By Anonymous
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Re:Anonymous message 12 Dec 14 at 10:08

So sorry to hear about your mother and how sudden the changes have appeared and developed. Try to find the strength for your parent and yourself and I wish you as good a birthday as it can be for you under the circumstances.

The first anniversary of my wife's passing will be on the 25th December 2014 and I had planned on a fasting day at either Barcelona in Spain my favourite European city or at a semi isolated beach called Poppit Sands near Cardigan , West Waales UK located some 30 miles from my home where I could have a 9 mile walk with her Jill Russell Terrier dog who now follows me everywhere.

I originally opted for the local walk with our son on the basis that if I had gone out in Barcelona I would probably want to be back home on her anniversary so as to be close to her final resting place.

At a late stage our son then turned around last week and said that he would like to go out somewhere on Christmas Day for a meal instead of the long walk.

On the opposite side of the beach where I had planned to walk there is a cliff top hotel that is separated by an estuary . By coincidence I found out last night that one of my sisters and her family are planning to stay at the hotel for 3 days during the Christmas break so I can now arrange for the two of us to have a pre meal shorter walk on the beach followed after by a dinner with our relations so that everybody gets what they want.

In the UK the hotels usually have 5-6 course meals on Christmas Day and the cost is far greater than a normal day so it will be astruggle for me to go through it all given that I was originally thinking of a fasting day. However I am reconcilced to merely eating tiny amounts of food as it will not be a normal day and I relasie that the son is now our future and know that my wife would have wanted us to be together as a family so the revised plan will be a good compromise . I will try to have and enjoy as normal a day as possible even though it will require a real effort on my part because deep down I will want to do something else.

I have started writing the story of my last two years and will try and paste an extract from the introduction and first part on to this site along with some links to special songs on the website U Tube that can be heard when on line.

I wish the compliments of the Season to you and all other contributors to the blog under what are difficult circumstanes for everyone.

December 15, 2014 - 1:17pm
EmpowHER Guest

My mother had sumptoms in May 2014 and started seeing her primary doctor regularly to figure out what was going on. June 9, her doctor ordered her to go to hospital immediately. That week she had a blocked bile duct and a procedure to temporarily drain into an external bag. July 2014 had Whipple Surgery on what we thought was only going to remove the head of pancreas. After surgery, surgeon said he had to remove all pancreas, gall bladder and spleen. In August 2014, is when we were officially told my mom had Pancreas Cancer in Stage 4. She began radiation treatments and chemo in pill form in late September. She could get around in her walker for short distances and needed wheelchair for long distance. On Nov 11, 2014 we received update on cancer marker.. it had doubled since June. This was also her first day for Chemo through IV. She had another chemo session on Nov 18. By Nov 24, 2014 she was extremely weak and hydrated. Was emitted to hospital and everything just went down hill. Spent Thanksgiving in hospital. Then she was transferred to a rehab center. Her Whipple incision had opened during chemo and was infected. She legs and abdomen have lots of liquid and she rarely gets into a wheelchair, and that is with help. This cancer is horrible. My mom is mostly knocked out due to needing powerful pain meds. It's my birthday today, 12-12-14 and I am so thankful to God to still have my mom. My heart goes out to anyone all who has cancer. I will keep you updated.

December 12, 2014 - 10:18am
EmpowHER Guest

I have just been reading thru all the blog comments on Pancreatic Cancer and my heart felt sympathies and Gods blessings for all of you.
My story is that my wife's mother was diagnosed with PC in Aug 2014 which has been aggressive. It did not allow for a Whipple Operation and did not respond to first round Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy 5-FU. Operations have been performed to insert stents in the bile duct and duodenum to relieve some of the PC problems.
It is now Dec 2014 and PC has rapidly progressed with treatment by doctors for quality of life. the PC symptoms are the same as many have mentioned:
* Extreme weight loss
* No appetite for food
* Extreme fatigue - sleeping more
* Abdominal and stomach pains needing strong drugs

There are some good days and bad days. We pray the she is with is for Christmas 2014. For all of you supporting those suffering this terrible disease - you are the strength they need. We wish you the best possible Christmas 2014.

December 10, 2014 - 3:15am
Susan Cody HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you so much for your good wishes, Anon and we wish the same to you. 

I hope your mother in law is pain free and enjoys the Christmas season.

Peace to you all,


December 10, 2014 - 4:16pm
EmpowHER Guest

Dear Anon,
I lost my wife to breast cancer on April 2009, after a 3-years journey with agony and pain. I was very much in love with her during the twenty one years of marriage which endowed me with four wonderful children. However, after her passing away, I thought that it was my turn and opportunity to reward myself for being so devoutly sincere. and that I owed it to myself to move on. Now I am married to another woman and have been blessed with 2 more children. My first 4 children thank me for being so courageous in deciding to move on and are very happy that I didn't become an emotional burden on them. Every person will go through the several stages of grief, but the quicker the better.

June 14, 2014 - 11:53am
EmpowHER Guest

My wife was diagnosed with stage 4 pancretaic cancer in December 2012 after being told by a different specialist a month previoulsy that it was non cancerous and went on chemotherapy in March 2013 for palliative care. They changed the cocktail from a strong one to a weaker version in September 2013 and in between those months had three sessions in hospital dealing with high temperatures or bowel blockages put down to the mass growth or the treatment itself or even the drugs taken while on the chemotherapy. She went in to hospital on the 22nd December with a high tempetature and I received a phone call on the 22nd December to call in at the hospital on the 23rd when I was told that she had peritonitis which was not operable and would end her life in 2-3 days. They effectively gave up because of this and the fact that they did not know the exact origin of the peritonitis and considered that she would not survive an operation. I think that they were also mindful that she was in month 12 after diagnosis whereas most inoperable cases dont go beyond 6 months.

Had they killed a nerve carrying pain from the back to the front instead of trying different pain killers over and above the morphine whcih worked to manage most of the pain I guess she would not have had any major pain issues until the outbreak of the peritonitis. It was a step by step approach on the UK Health service and the medicine solution had to be tried before the nerve removal procedure.

Had to battle the medics for 1.5 hours to agree for her to return home to pass away in line with her wishes. A line driver delivering diamorphine controlled the pain and we managed to have eye communication only for the last 30 hours of her life.Beyond a certain point she lost consciousness and sadly passed away on the morning of 25 December 2013. The worse Christmas for the family ever but at least she is no longer in pain.

She had 7 cancellations and for a meeting with a consultant in the period March 2011 - December 2011 when pain first started but was never given explanations and a critical MRI scan was conveniently lost at some stage (probably when they looked back and found that a growth was apparent well before December 2012) The wife was not the type to make a fuss or chase for appointments and we miss her terribly.

June 6, 2014 - 9:40am
Susan Cody HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anon

It looks like there was definitely some negligence here. We are so sorry to learn of your wife's death. How are you coping day to day? Did you ever get to talk to her medical personnel after she died?


June 9, 2014 - 12:21pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Susan Cody)

Thanks for your comment.

I may take up matters with the medics in due course as the trauma of it all is still painful and too much to think in a focused way.

On a day to day basis there are occasional negative thoughts and periods where it all comes back and the well of tears and emotions surcharges.Fortunately these are just fleeting moments and I try to avoid them taking over the life in the same way as the illness did for the last two years.

Friends and the family are supportive but can only do so much
as they have their own lives to lead and I have to work it out myself. It sometimes feel that one is being severely punished for having overly devoted oneself to a single partner for such a large part of one's life but I would not have it any other way and guess I would have done it all over again with her if our life was back on square one.

When I am out in a crowd with friends I make an effort to go in the first place and to join in but occasionally it feels as if one is sitting on one side of a double glazed window that blocks out the noise and sounds and that society ( that is everyone else ) is on the other side where they exist mainly as couples and I am the odd one out by virtue of being single.

When my wife was alive and arranging her funeral I asked her once for tips on my future survival and she replied by telling me to be happy. On the day before she went back to hospital with a high temperature after infection I had gone out to meet former work collegaues for a christmas meal at an event that had been arranged two months previously. We kept in contact by phone during the day and when I got back early evening I found that my late wife had been redecorating the kitchen.

When talking about my day and asking about who was at the meal she was surprised that a particular ex collegaue was missing. He had moved from the area we live in to a large city 3 hours away after re marrying about 6 months previously. His own wife had died from breast cancer about 3 years beforehand. On hearing this my wife pounced like a tiger and out of the blue asked me if I was harbouring thoughts of re marrying someday myself. On pointing out that this had only been raised to explain the absence of a particular work colleage I asked her what she thought about the subject now that it had been raised. She replied by saying that the happiness which she had mentioned before is what was paramount and that this does not arrive on a plate so one has to go out searching for it. She said that she would not be surprised if it passed by my very eyes so full alert would be needed but she also said that she would not tell me how to find the happiness or how not to. Words of wisdom I guess and it was the only time we ever spoke about the possibility of me re marrying.

The silence at night is erie and often I go to bed far earlier than I used to.I miss the companionship far more than I had envisaged and frankly now undestand why some men re-engage with a new partner soon after the loss something that I had alway been surpsrised about and frowned upon . Having given my all to her during the past 18 months and seen the illness take over our lives I feel that it should now be my time and harbour dreams of someone spoiling and pampering myself which I admit takes away from the memory of my late wife and it feels as if I am letting her down although I guess this could also be part of the happiness she mentioned as a tip for my survival.

Before she died I assured my late wife ,without any prompting or request on her behalf , that after the end I would take direct charge of the caring she had been providing for her 87 year old mother who lives independently and has her own health problems. This promise was made in the presence of my own minister which I wanted to do as it was the equivalent of the contract I felt she should have to give her the peace of mind before leaving us.

Several persons have since said I have placed a stick on my own back and I alway tell them that this is the least I could have done as my wife gave 40 years of her own life to myself including the 32 years when we were legally married. I also mentioned that the caring would not stop if my regained happiness ever involved another female and that if any new partner could not understand that then no relationship would ever get off the ground.

A week before she died my wife had been out with the village elederly person's association for their christmas lunch and also to a concert in the church so she was active right up to the last 2-3 days.

My wife wrote a letter to be read out at the funeral thanking for her life, thanking her friends for the good times had during her last year and setting out who she woudl like to see keeping a distant eye on myself and our son. She also set out her hopes for everyone that she would be leaving behind and ended by reminding the best friends to never forget the fun and enjoyment received during that time.

A friend who is a Bardic Poet and is one of only two such persons alive today who have won a chair, crown and literary medal at a National Eisteddfod ( a week long literary even in our country) wrote eulogies for her. They are best read in my native language (Welsh) and express how my wife's courage and vitality in facing up to her illness were a source of strength at the time, continue to be so now and in the future will inspire us to remember her love for life and fun. They are translated as follows:

Her bravery challenged us.
Her spirit and vivacity exhilarated us.
Her unyielding sweetness
Persists and fires the memory.

The fire in her eyes is the light
That shines through the grief
And her tear-less energy inspires us
Instilling strength in us.

In us, she will not grow old
In us, she will come back again
To claim a piece of sunshine
With her warm smile's embrace.

June 9, 2014 - 3:12pm
Susan Cody HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Thanks for this post, Anon. What a beautiful poem. 

Men do tend to look for a new relationship soon after a spouse's death. It doesn't mean they didn't love their wives but many men's social networks are through their wives - they need wives for companionship and don't cope as well alone as women do.  That's why I often laugh at the notion of men hating marriage or being dragged up the aisle when men in reality are happier when married and do better and live longer! 

You were a wonderful husband and you are not losing any memory of your wife if you find someone new down the line. You did all you could and I know that being a caregiver can be exhausting. Treat yourself now? Of course you should. And your wife would have wanted you to. 

Stay in touch with us and stay strong. 


June 10, 2014 - 10:50am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Susan Cody)

Thanks for your kind words. Your comments mirror my exact views which , incidentally, were recently imparted to some friends when we reflecetd on the events of the first month of 2014.

I have added the welsh version of the eulogies (called "englynion" in Wales and you will see the repeating pattern in the end of each line which is lost in the literal translation although the meaning is clear in either language..

Best wishes

Gwyn Jones
West Wales

Ei dewrder fu’n ein herio-ei hysbrwyd
ai’n hasbri’n gloefreiddio
a’i hanwyldeb di-ildio
sy’n parhau, sy’n cynnau co’.

Y tan yn ei llygaid hi yw’r golau
trwy’r galar, a’i hynni
di-wylo’n ysbrydioli,
yn ennyn nerth ynon ni.

Ynon ni, nid aiff yn hen,-ynon ni
fe ddaw’n ol yn llawen
i hawlio darn o heulwen
ag anwes gynnes ei gwen.

June 10, 2014 - 2:20pm
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