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ask: end of life signals for pancreatic cancer patient

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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
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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
EmpowHER Guest

My mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August 2013 at the age of 90. Because of her age she opted out of all treatment. She was very healthy, never smoked, drank and was very obedient to a healthy diet. She came from a family of 7 and was the only one not to have diabetes. She did have a stent put in to help drain the bile. The only medication she was taking was a thyroid replacement. It wasn't until December of 2014, she started not feeling well and the doctors discovered the stent was clogged, they did their best to clear it out as much as possible. The last 6 weeks of her life she started getting tired, little to no appetite but was always as spunky as she could be. The day she passed she was vomiting black stuff, which was a sign her liver shut down. She could not get comfortable so the hopice nurse advised a small dose of morphine and a lorazepan. My mom being so healthy at first refused the morphine becuase she was not in pain, but once she knew it would make her comfortable she agreed to take. Within the hour after taking these meds she said "I'm dieing, she rolled over and was gone" 2 1/2 months short of her 92nd birthday. I live in a different state and traveled back to see her at least 3 times a year. She lived with just the stent for almost 18 months and enjoyed that time in her life, there were times when I thougth the doctors misdiagnosed her, she was so active. I believe we will be together again some day, but its so hard with her gone. She seemed so invinsible. I had to share this story becuase of the quality of live she was able to enjoy for the almost 18 months after being diagnosed. She was the only person in her family to have cancer. So it was so surreal to us all, she was so healthy. I am just thankful she didn't suffer long.

April 18, 2015 - 12:29am
EmpowHER Guest

Hello all,
My father in law was just told he has pancreatic cancer, at this moment he is in surgery, they are removing part of his spleen and his whole pancreas, not sure what all this means. How do u live without these? If this is the surgery what is the life expectancy afterwards? My hubby is a wreck, after in law is in NY and we in FL. Hubby had just came off vacation when we got the news so his job will not allow him to go again so soon. Can anyone, someone help us understand. How long will he have after the surgery? Confused and scared. Thank u

April 16, 2015 - 6:12am
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