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My Story of Loss to Pancreatic Cancer

Loss

My mom recently died a terrible, somewhat sudden death. I say recent…21 months is still recent in my book. The culprit? Pancreatic Cancer – “the silent killer” as they call it. I rarely write about things non-travel and culture related here, but if you consider that my mother’s death was an impetus to my starting this blog, it’s not completely off topic. 

I recently wrote the following article for Linda’s Hope, a non-profit dedicated to fighting pancreatic cancer via fundraising, research, and awareness. It was first published here.

This is my story- my experience with the evil known as pancreatic cancer. It’s a tale of loss, the beginning of the deepest despair, that does hardly any justice to this phenomenal woman who was taken- way too early- from my family of seven. 

The Call 

I was in my kitchen in Washington, DC when I got the call from my mom. It was an early April evening in 2011. I remember the moment so vividly, like a flash-imprint on my brain. She didn’t come right out with what she called to tell me. Like she so often did, she seemed to be setting some sort of context.

“Hey Linds. How are you?” “

I’m OK. Tired. Crazy day at work.”

“Oh, well how’s Alan?”

The small talk ensued for a few minutes. In retrospect, she seemed to be having trouble saying what she wanted to say.

“Well, I just wanted to call you and let you know that I’ve been having some tests done.”

Wait, what? Tests? What kind of tests? What was she talking about? 

“My doctor thought it was a diverticulitis flare up, but I could tell that it was something else.”

I was with Mom when she was first diagnosed with diverticulosis and diverticulitis, which I later discovered is fairly common in older people (half of those over 60 will have diverticulosis). I brought her to the emergency room and waited with her as she balled up in agony.

So her intuition led her to seek out a second and third opinion. The doctor, “the jerk” she said, had his nurse contact Mom over a month later to tell her that something was indeed wrong with her.

“I have a spot on my pancreas,” she finally admitted to me.  OK. What does that mean? 

“I didn’t want to say anything to anyone until it was confirmed. I went to MD Anderson, and it turns out that I have pancreatic cancer.” I grabbed the kitchen sink as I almost fell to my knees.

My ever-optimistic mom continued, “But the good news is that we caught it very early. It hasn’t spread outside the pancreas. And it’s located in the tail, which is the best spot for it to be. I’m already scheduled to have surgery at MD Anderson, which is a leading cancer institution.  Dad and I have a trip planned to Europe, but the doctor said it wasn’t a big deal to push the surgery back a couple of weeks for when we get back. I’m scheduled for surgery in May ”

My head spinning, I walked outside onto my tiny back patio. I braced myself on the table, sitting down. “Mom. What does this mean? Are you going to be OK?”

“Yes honey. It’s going to be fine. The doctors are really optimistic, and so am I.”  I didn’t know anything about pancreatic cancer, but the word cancer itself was bad, I knew that.  I knew that it wouldn’t be a “let’s cut this sucker out of you- ok, we’re done!” situation. I’m a realist and thought, crap- she’s going to have to do chemo and radiation. It will probably come back. Cancer always does….. Is this the beginning of the end? 

If you know me, you know that I am a worrier. I always seem to stress over everything and try to prepare myself for the worst. Juxtaposed to my mother, who had sunshine and rainbows coming out of her- well, you know the expression.

Mom continued to reassure me. She said she was relieved to tell us (her kids). She had been living with the knowledge, unconfirmed and unable to tell anyone, for over a month.

The Dread

After we hung up, I jumped on the Internet, against Mom’s wishes. “Don’t go get on the Internet and start researching this, because it’s all doom and gloom, and I’m not going to look at it that way…”

Yea, this pancreatic cancer business? It was bad. The statistics made me gag. The five-year survival rate- FIVE YEARS- was 4%. Holy crap. The one-year survival rate was 20%- not great at all.

I called my sister, Whitney, who had just lost her best friend to Adenocarcinoma. She was doing the same thing I was, hunched over her laptop, researching the statistics. We were getting worked up, crying, trying to understand what we were dealing with.

I called Mom back in hysterics. No, no, no- her case was different, she tried to tell me. Those people, they normally don’t even know they have the disease until Stage IV. They call it the “silent killer” for a reason. There are usually little to no symptoms, so it’s nearly impossible to detect until it’s too lateSo that’s why the statistics were so grim, she reassured me. It was a fluke that Mom’s existing diverticulosis led her to probe further into her symptoms, and they happened to catch the tumor so early.

Part of me simply wanted to believe what she was saying. So in a way, I did. I stopped listening to nay-sayers and did minimal research. In the back of my mind, the sickness was always there, looming.

A+ in surgery

Mom passed her surgery at MDA with flying colors. It went beautifully, the doctors elated. The surgery, scheduled for three to four hours, took less than two. Good signs all around. We all felt hopeful. My dad even exclaimed, “We beat it!” I knew better and told him that we were just starting this battle. He got angry with my pessimism. I was just worried. So, so worried. As it turns out, I was right to be.

Mom kept her cheerful disposition throughout her chemo treatments. She started a Caring Bridge site, touting herself as a “Pan-Can survivor!” Her upbeat updates were encouraging, showing her strength and beautiful outlook on life. She would never be a victim. She was a fighter, and everyone knew it. Her warm positivity was infectious.

“If anyone can beat this, it’s Pegasus,” friends kept telling me. (Pegasus was one of Mom’s many nicknames). I knew that. I held on to that. I toyed with the idea of quitting my job and moving back to Baton Rouge, LA to spend time with Mom. I didn’t want to have any regrets. She didn’t want that for me, though. She wanted me to live my life.

pancreatic cancer

Beautiful Mom

Change

When she started radiation in conjunction with chemo, her mood started to fall. She struggled with the treatments. I went with her to one such treatment. She was cheery and upbeat during the session, talking to everyone who worked in the place (everyone loved her), showing me how she could pick her favorite music channel and jam out while being irradiated. The doctors and techs showed me the contour lines representing different radiation strengths around her organs on the monitor. She tolerated it gracefully, but I know she hated it. Later, Mom admitted that she would not have done radiation had she known how terrible it would make her feel.

Fast-forward to November of 2011. I came home to Baton Rouge the weekend before Thanksgiving for my sister-in-law’s wedding. Mom told me days before that she had been having digestive complications, most likely related to the radiation treatments. She wasn’t able to keep anything down, and the doctors thought that she could have an intestinal obstruction from scar tissue caused by the radiation. Apparently this was not uncommon. There was no way to tell with scans. They thought that the obstruction might correct itself over time. Meanwhile, Mom had to visit a clinic every day to get intravenous nutrients. I brought her to one of these appointments.

Her pain steadily increased and her abdomen swelled. She was avoiding the hospital like the plague. I secretly think she was terrified of hearing bad news. She was admitted to the hospital the night before the wedding. The doctors still wanted to watch her and see if this obstruction would somehow work itself out. It was maddening. When she made no improvements, her surgeon decided that surgery was their only option. He assured all of us that it was a fairly routine procedure; he would cut out the obstruction, and Mom should be fine. She went in to surgery Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving. That is the night my life changed in the most horrific way imaginable

Devastation

I had spent most of my days and nights at the hospital with Mom since she had been admitted. I decided to step out for a couple of hours to have dinner with a friend who drove in from New Orleans to see me.  In retrospect, I’m not sure why I left the hospital as Mom was going in to surgery. It was supposed to last several hours, so I guess I rationalized that I would be back before she was out of surgery.

So when I got a phone call and text from my dad saying, “Please come back to the hospital right now,” my heart sank. I couldn’t stop shaking during the drive back to Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center. I hastily made my way to Mom’s room, and Dad and my brother, Cullen, intercepted me in the hallway. I could tell by their faces- it was bad. I don’t remember who spoke. It’s all a blur to me now. One of them said that when the surgeon opened Mom up, her cancer had spread. That’s why she couldn’t digest anything. The tumors were wrapped around all of the organs in her abdomen “like liquid cobblestones”. It was inoperable. She might have two weeks.

At those words, I slumped to the floor, body racked with sobs, yelling “No! No! No! No!” over and over. Cullen caught me on the way down, and we stood there in a three-way-embrace: me, Cullen and Dad.

There aren’t words to articulate the pain and depth of despair one feels when discovering someone they love most in the world is going to soon die. I think it would be worse than hearing the prediction of my own death

We went in to the waiting room, where my sister Chandler was sitting. She was there with Dad when the doctor came in with the unthinkable news. I’d never seen Chandler, my controlled and composed sibling, so unhinged, so devastated. She was almost hyperventilating with sobs.

When they brought Mom back to her hospital room, we weren’t sure if she knew, yet. She had been anesthetized and was waking up. We were trying to figure out how and when to have this conversation. I think the surgeon somehow must have told her, because when Dad said something, she started weakly sobbing, simply saying, “I can’t. I can’t do this right now…”

Never give up

What do you say? What do you do? Someone is not yet dead, but it is hopeless, so you succumb to watching them die? No. This is not what we do. Mom’s a fighter. I’m a fighter. Over my dead body was she going to die!

Every day I bombarded her oncologist, surgeon, and radiologist with questions. I got on the phone with MD Anderson, demanding second opinions and experimental treatments. What about the cyber knife? What about x or z treatment? Her oncologist (who also happened to be a family friend) had a couple of ideas for different chemo mixes he wanted to try on her, but he couldn’t do anything until she healed from surgery. So we would wait a week or two.

There was no giving up. You can’t! It seemed like her oncologist didn’t want to, either. They didn’t even order hospice for her when she checked out of the hospital to return to our home. They ordered home health instead, where nurses would come every day to administer her meds.

Somehow none of us wanted to face the facts. She was on morphine, for goodness sakes. But we were still holding on to some sliver of hope.

Reality is a bitch

After a few days at home, Mom passed away in our presence- on December 4th, just three days shy of her 59th birthday. I won’t go in to the harrowing, awful, traumatic details of our trying to resuscitate her after she collapsed. I will say that, in retrospect, it’s a bit of a miracle that we were all seven together, in the same room. All five of her children and her husband were with her in her final moment.

In some ways, I wish I had known overtly that pancreatic cancer was a “death sentence.”  That’s what everyone called it, but I didn’t want to believe it. Mom wouldn’t let us believe it. I guess in that sense, we honored her spirit; by fighting, forcing positivity, and never giving up.

I would trade anything in the world to have Mom back. Now, I am determined to see the end of pancreatic cancer- in my lifetime. Why does it have to be a death sentence? Why can’t we find a cure?

Mom was a huge supporter of The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network during her illness. We’ve made it an annual family event to run the Purple Stride all together in Austin, Texas. When I found out about Linda’s Hope and the wonderful things the organization was doing for pancreatic cancer research, I knew I had to be a part of it. I know Mom would be so proud, and if she were here, she would be leading the fight!

pancreatic cancer

I love you, Mom. I’ll never stop missing you, and I will always fight for you. (I have her nose, don’t I?!)

 

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102 Responses to My Story of Loss to Pancreatic Cancer

  1. Alan Parrish September 25, 2013 at 5:25 AM #

    I am an American sitting in a coffee shop in Edinburgh, Scotland discovering Lindsay for the first time. I came to this site because a friend recommended I read her unique perspective of the world. I never expected to find such a moving, personal story that would touch me like this one did.

    Those of us who travel enjoy discoveries of other cultures and perspectives, but Lindsay’s story reminds me that what’s most important are the individuals.

    There are people like Lindsay’s mom who face incredible challenges and leave us with examples of courage and strength. And there are people like Lindsay, whose perspective will never be the same. She will see the world through a slightly different lens; perhaps one with greater emphasis on the moment.

    Lindsay, thank you for sharing your experience with us. It must have been difficult, but whether you realize it or not, your mother’s legacy will continue in your writing and your experiences. We’re looking forward to discovering some of them with you.

    • Lindsay September 25, 2013 at 10:21 AM #

      Alan, Firstly, let me just say thank you. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such lovely, thoughtful words. It really means the world to me. After Mom passed, I felt (ironically) more connected to other people- even complete strangers. Feeling those raw emotions of losing someone you love reminds you that we are all people, sharing this planet. We all come from the perspective of the human condition, having similar basic needs and priorities. I don’t know many cultures that don’t hold family as the highest priority. So in a way, the world shrank for me. Traveling after Mom’s death allowed me to connect to amazing people from all over the world and feel pure love, while witnessing the natural beauty of our planet. Again, thank you so much for your words, and I am so glad that you found me here!

      • Tiffany Hagen August 21, 2014 at 2:50 AM #

        First let me say I’am so sorry for your loss. I stumbled upon your blog in search for others whom endured a loss from Pancreatic Cancer, and as I read on and seen the first Pic of your Mom I just had to read more….

        That picture of your Mom resonated with me on such a deep level. It was like I was looking at a pic of my Mom.
        Let me share with you, my Mom was diagnosed with PC April 6th 2011, and passed away Dec 5th, 2012 lasting only 20 months after diagnosis.

        My Mom was also a riot at her chemo sessions…everybody knew of her, the entire staff just loved when she was coming in, and she made so many other friends during her treatments.

        Like you, my Mom was my world. I couldn’t believe this was happening to her, an wished it was me instead of her, the pain of losing her was that intense. I did exactly what you did, and went straight to the internet, never really knowing anything about PC prior to this situation.
        I felt defeated immediately, but my Mom is a strong ass person, and did everything to fight this battle. I searched for any cure possible, and we tried any type of regimen
        that would give her the best chance.
        She had one last attempt by trying to receive a newer treatment, it was like cyber knife, but while she was being evaluated for the treatment she got admitted to the hospital and spent nearly 40 days due to constant fluid build up from asities. I spent every night in the hospital with her. I couldn’t believe my Dad would never spend the night, and unfortunately, it was like pulling teeth to get my brother out to see her. At that point she didn’t want to be alone! I was grateful to spend every waking moment I could with her. Although it took it’s toll on me as well, it was hard to let anyone else take care of her. She’s my best friend, Mom, and the only grandma my two girls have ever known.

        She had so much pain, and such a challenge with food in general. It was devastating. Depression is a huge problem with this cancer, the malabsorption from not being able to digest food properly was horrible to watch someone go through.

        Unfortunately my Moms PC was end of stage when it was caught. She had terrible pancreatitis throughout the process, and was regularly admitted to the Hospital with no food or water until it subsided. She also got blood Clots from the chemo. So now we have to add daily blood thinner shots to her stomach to keep them at bay. She ended up having one huge blood Clot from her neck to her right elbow. I knew at this point the chemo is taking it toll.

        She made the best of it though. She was optimistic, while I worried for the both of us. At this point my Mom was given only days to live. The Doc said her organs were shutting down, so she made the decision to go home one last time, I supported her, but was fearful of the unknown. I promised her I would do whatever I needed to, with the help of hospice.

        She desperately wanted to just look at her horses, and see her dogs and cats one last time. She loved animals. In fact, since she spent most of her time at the end on heavy pain meds, she was trying to convince us to bring her horses to the hospital parking lot, where she could just look at them through the window.

        I just knew she needed to go home one last time after she was begging for the horse in the parking lot. She was one of the funniest people I knew.

        Once we got home, one of the cats never left her side. She only lasted a few days and most of the days she spent in a coma. It was horrible. I didn’t get one last good conversation with her. I’m so sad about that! I had no idea that she would end up having a stroke, and would be unable to speak to us again. That was the first time I ever saw her give up! It was like she was screaming inside, but we couldn’t understand what she was trying to tell us, and then she slipped into a comatose state. I stood by vigil for nearly three days.

        It’s so hard to find others who know how horrible this cancer truly is. Thank you for writing your story. It brought tears to my eyes, and the similarities between Mother and Daughter were so surprising I just had to share.

        Tiffany Hagen

        • Lindsay September 9, 2014 at 8:09 PM #

          Oh my goodness, Tiffany, I am so, so sorry for your loss as well and for the traumatic events you had to go through. Thank you so much for sharing your story. As I was reading it, tears filled my eyes, as I could feel everything you were saying. I was in that hospital room again with my mom, frantically calling MD Anderson and desperately looking up last-ditch solutions. It’s so hard to relate to the rest of the world when you go through something like this. You almost have to put it out of your mind to cope with every day life and the average person with their experiences.

          Reading your story also made me think about how my mother was at the end, also heavily medicated and only somewhat lucid. I wondered, as I still do, what was going through her head? Was she thinking about her last moments there with her family? Or was she too doped up to really comprehend? I think she knew. She slept with me on her last night. She came stumbling in my room in the middle of the night. She smiled at me in a hazy way and said she loved me this much (holding out her arms- wide stretched). I think about that moment all the time.

          It’s hard not to hold on to the pain. I often just put it out of my mind, in order to go on with my life. But when I think about her, I get angry that she was taken from us- angry and sad that she’ll never know my daughter and even angrier that my daughter will never know her. I had so many plans for us three generations. We were going to travel the world together, three adventurous women. My mom would love on my baby girl and help watch her while I worked. She would witness her discover and fall in love with the world along side me. I hate feeling this wounded all the time, but I’m not very capable of separating my emotional self from my practical self.

          Thank you again for sharing your story. It makes me sad, but it gives me solace knowing that we’ve connected, even if in a painful way. It’s still a very deep and all-too-human connection.

  2. Chandler September 25, 2013 at 8:29 AM #

    Great post…hard to relive, but great homage to Mom.

    • Lindsay September 25, 2013 at 10:23 AM #

      Sorry, Chan. I know it’s hard. I think about that day often. Maybe less often as time goes on. It helps me to talk and write about it to sort through my emotions. So many people I know are affected by pancreatic (or some other) cancer. I think when you tie in the personal stories, if people can be moved enough, they may be called to action. Love you.

      • Amiee Matherne September 25, 2013 at 11:30 AM #

        Aunt Peggy was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside. I still can’t believe she is gone; she was the life of any party and loved everyone no matter what their situation was- truly an angel! Her legacy lives on through all her “little chicks”.

        • Lindsay September 25, 2013 at 9:52 PM #

          Thanks, Amiee-Lou. Mom taught me so many lessons about life and love, and I don’t think I realized what these lessons were until she was gone. I strive to be more like her everyday, mostly in heart and spirit. She was inspirational. She had so much love to give! Can’t wait to spend more time with “her side” (y’all!) at Thanksgiving!

  3. Ann Marie Raftice September 25, 2013 at 11:08 AM #

    Hi Lindsay,

    A beautiful tribute to your mother. Keep up the good work my lady x

    Lots of Irish love,
    Ann Marie

    • Lindsay September 25, 2013 at 9:54 PM #

      Hey Ann Marie! Thanks! Miss you, chic! I wish I was coming to Ireland next week to hang out with ya! You know what’s funny? I was looking at my tweets the other day and came across the first one that you ghost-wrote for me somewhere in — was it Laos? yes. Remember that? I was like, “How does this Twitter crap work?” You opened my eyes!! Now I’m on it every day! haha!

  4. Chris September 25, 2013 at 11:27 AM #

    Thanks for writing this. She was an amazing lady. And if anyone can end pancreatic cancer, it’s you.

    • Lindsay September 25, 2013 at 9:55 PM #

      Thanks, Chris. She was a big fan of yours :). Let’s get this pancan stuff gone!

  5. Kay Rodriguez September 25, 2013 at 12:53 PM #

    Beautiful piece, Lindsay, and what a wonderful woman she seemed to be. But I am so impressed at you and your family’s strength through the process, and that you are continuing to support efforts to rid the world of pancreatic cancer in her honor. What a brave soul and inspiration you are.

    • Lindsay September 25, 2013 at 9:49 PM #

      Thanks, sweet Kay! That means so much to me! I try to be brave, but quite honestly, I’m terrified a lot of the time! I find strength in friendships, like the new ones I’ve made at Bloghouse and through the travel blogging community in general. It really does fill a void! Hope you are well! Maybe I’ll come visit you in Rio at some point!

  6. Kahne McDowell September 25, 2013 at 3:08 PM #

    Lindsey, so very beautifully written. I was hesitant to read your words because I knew how it all ended. Your Pegasus was an ominous force during Adrienne’s battle with this monster. She had a map of the world mounted on a board and we were to place push pins in all the places where people were praying for my daughter. She and Adrienne were adamant that they were going to beat their cancers. Whitney and I have spoken to each other about how they each left us and how awful that departure was. Peg lasted a bit longer, but they both left suddenly and too soon. Love you and never stop writing about what is good for your soul.

    Kahne

    • Lindsay September 25, 2013 at 9:44 PM #

      Oh, Ms. Kahne, I know it’s so hard. I imagine even in a different way for you. Mom loved your sweet Adrienne. She seemed to love everybody 🙂 Thank you for your encouraging words. We all have to stick together and hold each other up, because the pain never leaves, and we will fall…. Much love to you!

  7. Lisa Lubin | LLWorldTour September 26, 2013 at 1:09 AM #

    Beautiful Lindsay. Touching, endearing, and tremendously sad all at once. So glad to know you. Thank you so much for sharing your mom with us. xx

    • Lindsay September 26, 2013 at 1:40 AM #

      Thanks, Lisa! That means a lot! I sometimes feel the need to over-share 😉 I just want people to really know me- all facets.

      I’m bummed to miss TBEX (not sure if you’re going?) but hopefully we’ll cross paths again soon!

  8. Pointsandtravel September 26, 2013 at 5:18 AM #

    Lindsay… I am so sorry. What a terrible thing to have occurred to your lovely mother and to you at such a young age. It was beautifully written and is a testament to the closeness you feel to your Mom. She will always be alive in you. Love you girl, you are so special.

    • Lindsay September 28, 2013 at 12:56 PM #

      Thanks, Cindy! I think I always took other people’s loss for granted until it happened to me. Now I know the depth that’s impossible to grasp until you’ve been there. It makes me sad for so many!!

  9. Chasing the Donkey (@chaseTHEdonkey) September 29, 2013 at 4:27 PM #

    I am in tears. I don’t know you, but I know your story. I have 2 best friends who’ve lost their parents to this terrible cancer. One lost both her mother and father in 2 years of pancreatic cancer.

    We’ve have asked the same questions again and again – why, why can’t there be a cure. Or a least a treatment to give people many years of life post a diagnosis.

    And, yes, you do have her nose. And from the little that I have read, you have her big heart and go get attitude. Your Mom would be proud as punch I am sure.

    • Lindsay September 30, 2013 at 7:23 AM #

      Thank you for your heartfelt comment! I’ve been meeting others who have lost parents to pancreatic cancer by being involved with organizations like Linda’s Hope. The cancer seems to be affecting more and more people these days. Thank you for stopping by and taking time to read my post! I’m glad I found your site as well!

  10. Jamie October 24, 2013 at 8:43 AM #

    Hi Lindsey,

    I have been searching the net for things to help me cope with the loss of my Mom. My Mom passed on

    the 3rd October 2013, less than 3 weeks after Pancreatic Cancer was diagnosed. Unfortunately she had a lazy uncaring

    GP who ignored her increasingly worrying symptoms, and by time she got a 2nd opinion (I had to beg her to, Mom

    wasworried about upsetting her GP!) it was too late to do anything. I’m 41 and my Mom was 67 when she passed away.

    Mom was the most loving caring friendly and fun lady to be around, I was gifted that she was my Mom and as I grew up

    she became my best friend.
    I was with her when she was given the diagnosis, with her the week she was in hospital, and with her in her final

    week/hours/minutes and second, comforting her.
    I read the eulogy at her funeral perfectly.
    I have a lovely wife and 2 gorgeous children.
    I am back at work, who are paying for bereavement therapy.

    But I still feel a little lost, directionless, sad and empty, even with all these things in place. I feel my life is

    on hold, Mom would really hate me being like this and she would insist on me getting on with my life.

    I was inspired when I read your story and thoughts, and more importantly the positive work you have

    undertaken to give Mothers/Fathers/Sons/Daughters/Aunts/Uncles and their families more hope in the future. I will join the fight in my own way and involve my children somehow (sponsored walk/bike ride).

    Thankyou for putting your experiences on your webpage. Warm Wishes, Jamie

    • Lindsay October 28, 2013 at 5:10 PM #

      Hi Jamie. Thank you so much for your open and heartfelt comment. I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s so recent! What you are feeling is completely normal- lost, directionless, sad, empty – I don’t know that those feelings will ever truly go away. That’s what I’ve always heard, and almost two years later, I still feel them (lost, empty, sad…). I think you just learn to live with the pain, and it becomes a part of you and your life going forward. It’s also very helpful to talk to others (like yourself) who can directly empathize and support one another.

  11. Naomi November 1, 2013 at 1:05 AM #

    My mom was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer on October 16, 2013, she passed away on October 25, 2013. Your story is so similar to mine. This has all seemed like a nightmare. The oncologist told us that she wished there was more money available for research. My mom was only 54, she was taken too soon and too fast. I am going to do anything and everything I can to raise awareness and support research. Getting this diagnosis should not have to be a death sentence.

    • Lindsay November 1, 2013 at 12:37 PM #

      Oh, Naomi, I’m so terribly sorry for your loss. You’re right. It shouldn’t be a death sentence. What’s so infuriating is that with all of our advances in science and technology, this disease still alludes and beats us. I’m volunteering at a fundraising event for Linda’s Hope tomorrow. I don’t do as much as I can for the cause, but I think every little bit helps.

  12. Jamie November 11, 2013 at 6:04 AM #

    Thanks for the reply, that fact that a lady of your busy travelling schedule found time to reply was comforting to me. United in grief…I am going to create a little memorial at home, a photo or 2, a few mementoes, somewhere I can go to talk or feel like she is close.
    Hope you are well. Jamie

  13. Ashray December 13, 2013 at 11:40 AM #

    Hey Lindsay

    Your story is moving and so very sad. I am really sorry for your loss. Pancreatic cancer is a horrible disease. It’s the hardest thing to face those kinds of odds. If even Steve Jobs with his billions couldn’t beat it then humanity needs to unite and work together to find a cure. Money, research, study, and relentless effort and campaigning are the only ways that we can move forward and find a cure.

    I lost my father to IPF (Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis) earlier this year. It was just 5 days after my wedding and I am glad that he was around for it (he was happy and proud!). Like pancreatic cancer, IPF has no cure. We knew for the last 5 years that he was going to die. There isn’t even a 4% survival rate. It’s 0% for IPF patients unless they can get a lung transplant, even after which 10 year survival rates are extremely poor and quality of life is .. well it sucks, that’s all.

    All I can tell you is that life is about quality and not quantity, this is something I really REALLY started believing when I saw what the steroids did to my dad. I wish my dad were around to eventually meet and play with his grand kids but it was not to happen. He was 63 when he passed away. I think 63 is really young, and I am sure you believe 59 is really young. But I know that he lived well, and his passing reminds me that life is precious and every single day counts! Carpe diem!

    I can totally understand the part where your mother said that she wouldn’t have taken radiation treatment if she knew how it would make her feel. It’s good to put up a fight, and we are tuned to fight for as long as we can. But with my father’s sickness I knew there was a point that he was sick of it. There was a point that he did not want any more of this. Quality matters so much.

    We all have our own journey and I can only understand part of what you feel. But, I wish you all the strength in the world!

    Well, I’ve said a lot, I’ll just leave you with this song. It’s a beautiful song about cancer. I don’t know if you’ve heard it before: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToQ0n3itoII

    • Lindsay December 16, 2013 at 12:56 AM #

      Hi Ashray,
      Wow. I’m really touched by your comment, and I’m so glad you reached out and courageously shared your own story of loss and suffering. I don’t know much about IPF, but I am going to do some research to find out more about it. I was so ignorant about pancreatic cancer until my mom was diagnosed. (I actually didn’t know that she was going to die, so I guess you could say I was ignorant about it until after she passed away). I’m so, so sorry for your loss. I’m glad your dad was able to be at your wedding. I know my brother was broken-hearted that Mom wasn’t there for his. Yes, 63 is too young, as is 58 (mom died days shy of her 59th birthday). My mom’s mother is 94 and still healthy. It just doesn’t make sense sometimes…. I agree with you that quality of life is so important. And in that sense, I am glad that my mom didn’t suffer longer than she did. Selfishly, I did want her to keep fighting, though. As children, it’s our life-long worst nightmare realized, isn’t it- to lose our parents? Well, it means so very much to me to connect with people like you through this medium, and to share hope, strength and encouragement with one another. Thank you so much for reaching out!

  14. Mercedes February 19, 2014 at 7:39 PM #

    Thank you for sharing I am so sorry for your loss. I know what it’s like to lose a parent, there is no worse feeling. I would trade anything to have my dad with me again. Hope you are doing okay

    • Lindsay February 19, 2014 at 10:34 PM #

      Thank you, Mercedes! I feel you. I would do anything to have Mom back as well! I feel time makes the pain more manageable but I’ve lately felt the loss even more deeply as I prepare to have my first child. Thank you for reaching out! Sending you thoughts of peace, comfort and solace.

  15. Danie February 22, 2014 at 4:47 AM #

    Absolutely beautiful & heartbreaking story that I completely relate to. My dear dad passed away Halloween 2013 after a year long battle with pancreatic cancer, he was only 49. It was really horrendous to see the man I love so dearly my Gemini twin was gone. He fought so hard. It breaks my heart me & my brother are what kept my daddy going because he hung on for a while but I was told that my dad’s main concern about leaving this world was what would happen to me, his baby girl. It’s only been 4 short months and I’m still having trouble with all the “why’s?”, somedays it still feels like the day when I found out he passed, when I got the call, when I walked in the room and saw him. I kept imagining that his chest was moving because he was still breathing but was exactly that my imagination., so unreal. I just consider myself super blessed that my dad taught me so much. He left me with a lot of wisdom & we shared so many laughs, he was a funny guy! Now as time passes I myself am wondering this crazy path of life. I’ve always loved travel as well, now saving up I can do it more. So in Jan I booked a solo trip to head to Montreal, I’m looking forward to it and going to make it the greatest I can. Funny thing when I looked up Montreal on your website the photo of you and your mom came up, how gorgeous. Maybe you can give some must sees on Montreal. I’m diving into learning more about travel it has been awesome it is a real beautiful thing, the beauty of the world. Keep fighting be strong as possible. I’ll be doing komen for the cure 5k here in San Antonio soon, I can’t wait. Wish all cancer would end. Thanks for your beautiful story Lindsay! Tears to my eyes because it is so very true. Also if any Montreal tips, I will be taking notes 🙂

    • Lindsay February 22, 2014 at 3:49 PM #

      Hi! Wow, thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your painful story! I know you’re emotionally struggling right now. There will always be some element of that, especially considering how close you were to your father. For me, when Mom died, I felt my mortality and the finite condition of the human race greater than ever before. I was overcome with a an urge to either go all out and live to the fullest or to not live at all. Life is fleeting. Plain and simple. Most people ignore or deny this fact. You are forced to face it when you experience loss head on. Good for you for taking a trip to Montreal. It’s a beautiful place. When are you going? I will dig out some old photos and notes and dedicate a post on Montreal to you. (Is your name Chloe or Danie?) Anyway, time makes the pain easier to manage. Or at least you learn how to live with and through the loss. My favorite comments are the heartfelt, empathetic ones such as these. It really does make me feel less alone in the world. I’m so, so sorry for your loss. I’m sending positive thought your way. Happy travels!

      • Danie February 23, 2014 at 1:52 AM #

        It is very unfortunate that sometimes life and death situations are our wake up calls, to go out and live the best we can. No one is untouchable, dad was a strong a man, he could cut down a tree with no help then go do the yard of his ranch by himself. Never thought our super parents would come across this horrible disease, that is sure right, life is fleeting.

        I would absolutely love that! Totally made my day, thanks so much & yes my name is Chloe. I will be in Montreal the first week of May for a week. I’m 22 and my first time going out like this but it feels so great and I’ve never been more sure about anything. I will definitely look forward to the post. Thanks again Lindsay for the positive energy & thoughts, we are never alone.

        • Lindsay February 25, 2014 at 5:33 PM #

          It is so unbelievable that someone so healthy could acquire such a terrible, terminal disease. That’s why it was was exponentially harder for us. Mom was as healthy as a horse and very health-conscious, and her mom still alive and healthy at 93. I thought she would live to be 100! As I’m sure you felt about your strong and independent father. I definitely feel a sense of urgency to “really” live more than ever before…

          Be on the lookout for that post (dedicated to you, and your father) on Montreal in a couple of weeks!

          • Danie February 27, 2014 at 12:57 PM #

            I also still have my dad’s mom, my grandma, she is a blessing and only better with age!

            Great! I’m all ears & taking as many notes as I can before the trip is here. Thanks again so much!

  16. Sharon Carter March 4, 2014 at 2:09 PM #

    I am so very, very scared right now. My Aunt Sandi died last year of pancreatic cancer. She was in pain for at least a year before she finally went to the Dr. and by then it was too late. She died three weeks after that. I have just found out last Friday that my mom has a 4 cm spot/tumor/mass on her pancreas. We went to the surgeon yesterday who told her it might not be cancer, so she felt relief from that. Now we’re waiting on another Dr.’s office to call and schedule her scope/biopsy. I don’t know if it runs in families or not, but I’m scared to death of losing my mom. I’m an only child, so I really have no one else to help me get through this and I’m trying to be as upbeat as mom is about it until we know.

    • Lindsay March 4, 2014 at 4:20 PM #

      Hi Sharon, If the surgeon told her it might not be cancer, then that is promising. I wouldn’t worry too much until you need to. I know it’s easier said than done. I lost it when I first found out about Mom, then had false hope later. I think there are certain types of pancreatic cancer that are hereditary, but it’s rare. Hang in there! Try to stay positive. I’ll be sending positive thoughts your way! Keep me updated.

  17. Lydia March 5, 2014 at 4:32 PM #

    I happened to come across your story and it brought tears to my eyes. I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer 20 years ago and the pain of losing her is still there. She passed 6 months after having her tumor removed. 20 years later and it doesn’t seem like any advancement towards stopping this horrible disease has been made. I am very sorry for your loss.

    • Lindsay March 5, 2014 at 5:19 PM #

      Thank you for the kind words, Lydia. It is truly frustrating that a cure seems unobtainable. What’s even scarier is that it will be the #1 cancer killer in 20 years! At least there seems to be more of a sense of urgency around addressing the disease now. I’m sorry for your loss as well. I know that the pain and loss will always be there. I still get angry and sad when I think about it, and I just don’t understand it at all. I’m so glad you reached out to me. Thank you.

  18. Andrew March 31, 2014 at 11:51 AM #

    Dear Linsay,

    Im so sorry for your loss. I too have been through this with my significant other. She passed away on march 15, 2014. It is a horrible thing to go through. I too have a mission to see this cancer beat in my lifetime. My heart goes out to your family as well as other families who has been through this. God blees

    • Lindsay March 31, 2014 at 4:58 PM #

      Thank you, Andrew. I’m sorry for your loss as well. That is so recent. Sending positive thoughts and hope your way!

  19. Luz March 31, 2014 at 5:56 PM #

    Thank you for sharing…I empathize with you…I recently lost my mom to pancreatic cancer as well, she was only 64. She is beautiful like your mom and always thought positive. Diagnosed in March 2013 Stage 4 with lung mets. Initially had chemotherapy and when the tumor shrunk she had a whipple procedure. She did fine after the surgery weight stable. Succeeding treatments were radiation and when she started her next round of chemo, I don’t think her body tolerated it. She died suddenly in the hospital. Its about a year since she was diagnosed. I am still in shock, but I am thankful that she spent the last 6-7 months of her life with me. It is so rewarding that I had that quality time with her and she spent quality time with her grandkids. I miss her terribly, but now I know she is no longer suffering or in pain.

    • Lindsay March 31, 2014 at 6:49 PM #

      Hi Luz, Thank you for sharing your story as well. I’m glad that you got to spend that time with your mom. That’s one of my biggest regrets; not moving back home to spend those last 7 months with Mom. I guess we didn’t really realize that she was going to die (we were overly optimistic I think), and she didn’t want me to put my life on hold, either. Thanks for reaching out. I’m so sorry for your loss. Sending positive thoughts your way!

  20. Julia April 3, 2014 at 8:09 PM #

    I am in tears… Your story is so close to mine my grandmother was diagnosed September 28, 2011 she died because of pancreatic cancer October 27, 2011 a day after her youngest grandchilds 18th birthday. Her death ultimately led me to start blog as well. I can say it sucks a lot the sadness will never really go away, but it does get better. I know you don’t know me but if you ever need to talk know I am around.

    • Lindsay April 4, 2014 at 3:26 PM #

      Hi Julia, I am so sorry for your loss! That was not much time at all between diagnosis and your grandmother’s death. You are right about the sadness never going away but getting better (I would say more manageable). I think the pain just becomes part of your existence. Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your story!

  21. Dean tudor April 6, 2014 at 4:01 PM #

    Very moving story. I lost my mum to this on 11 march 2014 and feel numb
    After reading your story about your mum and the strength she had, I feel for you.
    I also had that phone call saying she had 3/6 months at most. She was walking on the Sunday , bed bound Monday and died Tuesday.
    It is a terrible death sentence and changes everyone’s life for ever.
    Thank you for sharing this with us all.
    Best regards. Dean Tudor

    • Lindsay April 6, 2014 at 10:53 PM #

      Hi Dean. Wow. I am continuously moved and saddened by people like you who reach out after reading my story and share their own similar heartbreak. When we first found out about Mom’s cancer, and she went in for her whipple procedure almost right away, we thought (like really believed) that she could/would beat it. We were told not to look at the Internet and believe the foreboding things we learned and heard. But the sad, sad and true reality of the disease is that one is a rare minority to survive even five years… Mom made it about 8 months… It’s shocking and such a terrible feeling to be so helpless against this mysterious beast. I am so, so sorry for your (very recent) loss. There are no words I can offer that will help with the pain. I know from experience. It is strange that time is the only thing that “heals all wounds”- and whereas some wounds, like losing someone so special to us, will never, ever completely heal, you do learn to manage and incorporate the pain and loss in to your life and continue to move forward… somehow. We really are a resilient species. Nearly 2.5 years later, I’m feeling a new sense of loss, as I approach the due date of my first child. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of sharing with my mom (who raised me and my four younger siblings….I was always the co-pilot/assistant w/ the kids). It’s bittersweet. I almost can’t stand it, going through this without her. It’s just one of those things. It’s life. Life’s a bitch. But it can also be so amazing. Feel free to drop me an email anytime you want to chat, vent, rant or grieve. I’m empathizing with you and sending hopeful thoughts your way.

  22. Karen April 14, 2014 at 11:29 AM #

    Thank you for sharing! My best friend’s mom was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer on Friday. I am afraif they aren’t giving her much time. My question to you is what would you do with your mom if you KNEW you only had a short amount of time left? If you could go back – would you share something with her that you didn’t get to before? I am thinking for my friend to try to take this time with her mom and “do” things with her that will fullfill them both. I’m not sure if i’m even asking a question that has an answer or if I”m using the right terms for a situation like losing your mom. I just wanted to gently suggest things for my friend and her mom to do with each other. Would you have said or done something, given the chance again?
    Thank you again for sharing such a well written and touching life story/lesson. I’m deaply grateful.
    Karen

    • Lindsay April 14, 2014 at 3:37 PM #

      Hi Karen, The first thing I would go back and do differently (if I knew how limited my time was)- I would have quit my job sooner than I did (which I did after she died) and moved back home to spend every waking moment with her. I would have talked to her about estate planning and family business stuff to get her opinion and maybe avoid some of the anxiety that has occurred in the wake of her passing. More importantly, I would have talked to her about my children, maybe picked out names, written down some of her advice about raising kids. I was the oldest of 5, so I I was fortunate enough to see my mom in action and retained a lot of that & would like to raise my kids similarly in many ways- but it would have been nice to have some conversations around that, to bring her in to my children’s lives after she was gone. Maybe even videos or voice recordings would have been nice. I would have told her how much I loved her every day. I would have made sure she knew how much I was going to miss her. I know it sounds depressing, but I think we were all in such denial or just clinging so much to some semblance of hope that we didn’t say all of the things we’re thinking now. My life will never be the same. It will always be a little more empty. I wish I could have known somehow. I might have tried to go on a trip with Mom…. If your friend’s mom is stage 4, then she might not be able to travel or do much..? But it would be nice if they could enjoy their time together, say anything that has remained unsaid, do things that her mom enjoys. I’m sorry to hear this news. It’s so hard and so sad. I’d also like to offer you some advice. Your friend is going to need you in ways you can’t imagine. My best friend flew in from California to spend a week with me after Mom died. We didn’t move from the couch for days, watching two whole seasons of Game of Thrones. She stayed up late with me drinking bourbon, crying with me…. (not that I condone drinking, but it was nice to have her holding my hand). Even if your friend is married (which I am) and has a big family (which I do)- she will need you. I promise. Please feel free to email me if you have more questions. Again, I’m so sorry!

  23. Melissa May 21, 2014 at 11:12 PM #

    Lindsey,

    Thanks so much for sharing your journey. My Mother died of pancreatic cancer in March of 2013. She was diagnosed in December 2012 after several visits to her doctor about what we thougt were gastrointestinal issues. I felt instantly robbed, always assuming my Mother live well into her eighties like her parents. The odd thing is she died in Baton Rouge, LA at the Carpenter’s House hospice. We are originally from New Orleans, LA but after Katrina Momma never moved back to the city. I appreciate the information on pancreatic cancer research and look forward to joining fight to make this disease less of a death sentence. Your sharing has helped me to deal with my loss.

    • Lindsay May 22, 2014 at 12:15 AM #

      Hey Melissa, I’m so sorry for your loss and that it was so quick. I am touched and glad that I was able to help you in some way. I think pancreatic cancer is one of the worst illnesses out there because of the fatality rate and the mystery surrounding the disease. I had the same exact feeling as you- that I was robbed. Mom had 30+ more years in her. Her mother is still going strong at 93. That would have allowed her to watch her grandchildren be born, grow up and maybe even have children of their own. Life can be so rotten and unfair. The pain is less intense for me now,as I hope is the case with you (time heals all wounds- and all that), but there will always be a gaping hole in my heart and soul that can never be filled.
      We actually didn’t do hospice with Mom because we were in such denial and thought that she could still beat it somehow, even when she was receiving morphine from home health. I wish we all could have prepared more, but can you ever really prepare for that kind of loss? It’s imposible.
      Thank you again for reaching out and sharing your story. Sending positive thoughts your way…

  24. Sarah May 31, 2014 at 6:34 PM #

    Hi LIndsay

    Thank you so much for sharing such a personal and moving story. My mum has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer 2 weeks ago, after 7 months of illness. It has spread to many places and she hasn’t been able to eat or go out much for many months and I fear she will not have long.

    Your advice of what you would do if you could go back is a great help and comfort to me, as this is what I wanted to know. I want to do all I can. Her pain is not under control and so it is hard to take her anywhere or do things with her.

    It breaks my heart that she will never see me get married or have kids, I feel I have failed her as a daughter by not giving her those moments. Your suggestion to talk to her about names and raising kids is so lovely, this is something I hope to do.

    My biggest wish is that I am there for her, especially when the time comes. Your mum must have felt so loved having you all there for her and she seemed so strong and an amazing lady.

    My heart goes out to you and everyone sharing their loses here. I truly hope in years to come there will be less and less comments such as ours.

    • Lindsay May 31, 2014 at 7:33 PM #

      Hi Sarah, Thank you so much for your heartfelt comment. I am so sorry that your mom has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. I truly feel for you and empathize over how hard it is to see someone you love so much suffer so terribly. I’m glad you found my suggestions useful. I hope you get to spend some good quality time with your mom. Is she on morphine to manage the pain? I imagine, if she is not able to eat? That’s hard, when they’re not very coherent. I’m sending positive, hopeful and peaceful thoughts your way…

      • Sarah June 1, 2014 at 5:32 PM #

        She has only been able to eat mash potato, chicken and boiled fish for the last 4 months as the blockage in her bowel is so large it causes too much pain and they wouldn’t do anything until they had a diagnosis.

        She is currently in hospital, had a stent put in her kidney ready for chemo. She had morphine for a few weeks prior to that but it wasn’t helping much, and they said they would keep her in to get her pain under control. She’s now having Oxytocin but is still in a lot of pain. Worried she won’t be strong enough for any chemo now. I think the longer she is in there the less she will want to have anything else done anyway.

        I wish we had just brought her home on Friday as nothing has happened all weekend and she is more comfortable and better cared for by us.

        • Lindsay June 3, 2014 at 2:36 PM #

          Oh, Sarah- I’m so sorry. I know this is a terrible, miserable experience for y’all. If they/she decides not to do chemo, definitely talk to the doctors about moving her home in to a more comfortable environment and ask about home health. My heart goes out to you…

  25. Rhian July 28, 2014 at 9:25 AM #

    Hi Lindsay,

    Firstly, thank you for posting that and I’m so sorry to read about how your poor mum and family suffered at the hands of PC.

    My mum died 3 months ago after an astonishingly short battle with PC- she had 3 and a half weeks between diagnosis and her death, after being assured by her doctor she had gallstones. She was 62. I’m struggling every day to come to terms with not only the loss and gaping hole in my life where she once was… but also the shock. Some days I can’t believe how much everything has changed in such a short space of time.

    Reading your story was hard going, but somehow stories such as yours help me come to terms with it all, and on days like today where I’m not doing some well I actively seek them out. It’s surprising how similar our stories are- my mum insisted on us having a PMA (positive mental attitude) towards fighting the cancer and she too died at home, in her own bed, surrounded by everyone she loved most in the world. It was the hardest day imaginable, but I know for her it was the best way it could have been at the end.

    I hope time has helped you heal somewhat and you are able to take comfort from helping others above, as you have me.
    X

    • Lindsay July 28, 2014 at 9:08 PM #

      Rhian, Thank you so, so much for reaching out and sharing your story. I am so very sorry for you loss. I’m sure that the pain is still so fresh, raw and stabbing for you. It may sound strange, but I find solace in expressing my grief and putting it out there to the world so that it may touch others like you. None of us are alone. But the grief can feel so alienating. I just had a friend lose her dad to a different type of cancer. It took much longer for him to succumb to it. I think that’s one of the most terrible things about pancreatic cancer; how quickly it destroys. Shock is almost always associated with the disease. It doesn’t allow us time for much closure. I still wake up- two and a half years later, and think, “I need to call Mom.” Then I remember. I will say that the old cliche is true. Time does heal. Not the loss and the pain, but it rather just dulls the pain as you learn to live with and manage the loss as part of your existence. I just had my first child- a little girl- and it’s so absolutely bitter-sweet. I’m filled with love, happiness and joy- but I’m also heart broken that I can’t share this experience with my mom, as I always imagined I would. It helps me to take a spiritual, emotional, whatever you want to call it- step back and realize that it’s just life. This is the natural progression. Though our mom’s were taken way too early and too suddenly, death is inevitable for us all. It’s hard not to feel robbed of those last 20-30 years with her, but we must cope and keep stepping forward and learn to love life again… That’s what our mom’s would want for us.
      Your sister in grief,
      Lindsay

  26. Georgia October 7, 2014 at 8:28 AM #

    Hi Lindsay, I’m comforted in having found your blog tonight. I’m from Melbourne, Australia.

    Today was my dear mother’s funeral. She was 68, and was diagnosed with stage IV PC in May this year, just 5 months earlier. My darling mum had few symptoms before it was just too late to be operated or even offered chemo/radiotherapy. So mum had no treatment whatsoever, besides copious amounts of morphine for pain relief.

    As I this isn’t sad enough, dear dad passed away last year from advanced bowel cancer. Two significant losses in just 2 years. My two little boys, both toddlers, have had little time to bond with either of my parents, both taken way too soon.

    It’s very difficult to digest and truly understand the magnitude of my mother’s passing. I already sense a loneliness and vulnerability, perhaps because I feel orphaned. I miss both my parents terribly, and feel confused about why such tragedy has struck my family. I always felt we were a lucky, healthy lot and that such things happened to other unfortunate families, but not my own.

    I find comfort in our Christian faith and in our beautiful Greek-Australian culture. I know mum and dad are at peace, eternally happy and together.

    Thank you for the opportunity to post here. It’s very cathartic and healing.

    Oh, and my beautiful parent’s names are Harry & Helen.

    • Lindsay August 21, 2016 at 2:00 AM #

      Dear Georgia,
      I am very sorry that I am just now responding to your comment and somehow didn’t see it before. I feel the deepest sympathy for you. I can not even imagine losing both parents within two years. I’m so sorry for your loss.

      When you say you miss your parents and feel orphaned, that sense of vulnerability and loneliness you describe, I have been feeling – and battling that for the past 4 years.
      Our parents, when they do a great job, they do a wonderful job of making us feel so incredibly loved and safe. As a parent, you know how you feel toward your children- that you would do anything for them. So we know this is how our parents feel about us. It’s very hard to lose them because there is no one else in the world who knows us – every inch of our body and soul- so completely, and who will go to great lengths- the end of the world- just to keep us safe and warm and happy.

      I know. I have that feeling. That pang of anxiety.
      And then we are the parents now. The ones who have to be strong for OUR children. It is the most frightening thing in the world! One thing I’m learning though, as I age, is that we are all just trying to figure life out. None of us really know what we’re doing. Not really.

      Our parents were just like us. Flawed. Struggling. Doing the best they could. We just held them on such a pedestal. And that’s how our children will view us.
      I am sorry that your children did not get to know their grandparents.

      I get angry- almost daily, that my Eleanor will never know my mother- in this life- on this plain. And I am angry that my wonderful, joyous, selfless mom didn’t get to experience my sweet, funny, angel of a daughter. She would have been the light of her life (but I know she is with us. It still doesn’t feel the same).

      Empathy is the most divine human quality. And while our mutual suffering is not necessarily something to celebrate, I honor and cherish that it connects the God in us to each other.
      Love to you, dear Gerogia.

  27. rosanna October 20, 2014 at 12:36 PM #

    My heart aches for you and your family. I lost my mom September 25 – she was diagnosed just a week before that. It took her so fast-This EVIL cancer was just attacking her whole body.
    I don’t feel like it is real. I am miss her beyond words.

    • Lindsay August 21, 2016 at 2:06 AM #

      I’m so sorry for your loss Rosanna. And I’m sorry I’m just now seeing your comment 🙁
      I can’t believe you only had a week to process what was going on before losing your mother. That is so fast- so sudden. I hope you were able to spend time with her. I am sending you healing and love.

  28. AW January 13, 2015 at 12:28 AM #

    Lindsay, I thank you for sharing your story. There are far too many similarities in our stories. First and foremost, December 4th. I just lost my Mom this past December 4th. Much like you, she, along with all of us, truly thought she would be the outlier in the statistics. She was diagnosed August 14th, was scheduled for a Whipple on September 16 at Columbia Pancreas Center in NYC, but the beast put her on the hospital early and she ended up having a total pancreatectomy on September 9th. The surgery was a “success” and like your family, most of us were optimistic. I was the on the frontlines of research and doctor visits, so although I believed in my Mom’s will to fight, I was terrified by the disease and all that came with it during her brief, but emotional battle. My beloved Dad never left her side; putting his work at his law firm on hold, while my wife and I, along with my two brothers (one who lives local in NY with his 2 little kids and one on Chicago) and her three siblings and their spouses rallied around her during her 3 week stay at Columbia Hospital and in the scant few months at home as we tried to ready her for chemo. She fought like hell. There were a few positive weeks in October where she cooked dinner and was eager to get out of the house, alas she never got strong enough for treatment to start. She knew she was a lot more sick than she let on, but fought to make it to her 62nd bday on November 23 and Thanksgiving, only to end up back in the hospital on both of those days. There was never a day she was not with my Dad in those 3+ months and never a day in the hospital when my wife and I were not with her. She said we made her feel calm; which was a remarkable feat even when she was healthy. How could I not be there? She was hospitalized again on December 2nd with low sodium and high potassium with an unknown cause. She did not give much indication that she was near the end until late in the day in the 3rd. December 3rd was her mother’s 85th birthday and she did speak to her on the phone. After that, she began shutting down a bit and only spoke briefly, which was unusual. When we thought she had a stroke (turns out it was electrolyte imbalance) we gathered her siblings to see her. She was set to be transferred to Columbia University hospital the next morning where she had her surgery. She kept asking her siblings and my dad and I what time it was, which was curious. At 4am on Dec 4th, I was in the ICU with her alone, as I sent my dad home for an hour or two of sleep abd she told me “you take such good care of me. i love you” abd 1 hour later she was gone. 6 weeks later we are picking up the pieces slowly. Life without her is surreal. We realized after that she was concerned about the time all day on the 3rd because she would not allow herself to pass away on her mother’s birthday. That in a nutshell was my dear Mom’s last act of selflessness.

    In an effort to help ease my soul, I am continuing her desire to be an advocate and have started raising money for a variety of causes; from having my 8th grade students walk in the Relay for Life and having my entire family complete Purple strides this spring

    That was the first tine I wrote out that story. Your original post inspired me to do so. Thank you for giving me the energy to do so.

    • Lindsay August 21, 2016 at 2:26 AM #

      AW- I just read your story several times, blinking through knowing tears. Your words touched my aching soul.Your mother sounds like a kindred spirit to my mom. I can’t believe how strikingly similar their stories are. So many parallels – and leaving this world on the same day.
      I’m glad you were able to write your story, and I am so thankful and honored that you shared it here. I’m sorry for the loss of your amazing spirit of a mother. I know all too well the void that is left in that wake. She was so lucky to have you and her wonderful family by her side. That’s the blessing. I’m glad you were with her. Sending healing love your way….

  29. Alicia January 27, 2015 at 1:29 AM #

    I just lost my mother to this terrible to unforgiving cancer. My mom was 54 and was diagnosed on Dec. 22 and passed away on Jan. 22. She was a model of health and only showed signs of the cancer a month before her diagnosis. We were hoping for more time, but her cancer was so advanced. Chemo deteriorated her and then the pneumonia is what took her. I’m numb and saddened. I am most puzzled about this cancer and how underfunded it is. I find comfort in knowing others stories and that my mom is in peace.

    • Lindsay August 21, 2016 at 2:32 AM #

      My deepest condolences for your loss, Alicia. It seems so unfair. It IS so unfair. That our loved ones can be taken so quickly and so cruelly. I don’t even understand chemo as a treatment. That and radiation are just poison. Poison for the bad cells- and the good. I hope the day comes soon when there can be a less destructive way to treat cancer. Radiation is what terribly affected my mom. She said she wouldn’t have done it again, if given the option. I’m so sorry, Alicia. And please feel free to contact me if you want to talk about it. Love and light to you.

  30. chandler parrott February 6, 2015 at 6:57 PM #

    I recently lost my dad to pancreatic cancer. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on july 25,2014. He thought he had diverticulitis too. He had awful pains in his stomach and was swolen. He went in for a physical and his blood work showed white blood cells count was high in his liver. He immediately went and saw a pancreatic and liver cancer specialist. Immediately she referred him to a surgeon and then that surgeon conferred with many other doctors.They came to the conclusion that he was inoperable. He was put on chemo immediately. He turned 50 on July 27, 2014 two days after his diagnosis. Im 15 years old and my birthday is on March 18. His goal the whole time was to see me turn 16. He told every doctor that he wanted to see me turn 16. He passed on December 9,2014. He had a great memorial service, it lasted 2 1/2 hours! We had around 400 people there for it. 29 people were saved that saturday. People think they know the struggle but only people who have been there really know. im sorry for your loss stay strong!

    • Lindsay August 21, 2016 at 2:42 AM #

      Oh my gosh, Chandler. I don’t even know what to say. You are so young to go through this. Your dad was so young. My cousin’s cousin was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer- in his 30s! It blows my mind. But losing your dad, with so much you must still want to do, it must be so hard on you. I hope that you have good support in your friends and family. I know it can be terribly lonely going through those emotions- that pain. It sounds like your dad was brave- a fighter. I’m sure he was so proud of you. He’s with you, you know. Every day. Every second. I know they’re with us. All the time. Our guardian angels. You stay strong too! But just remember- sometimes strength is letting go, being vulnerable, letting others in, letting people know how much you hurt. The strongest people can reveal their truest emotions. Lean on others when you need to be lifted up. We are all angels for each other. Love and light to you, dead Chandler. (that’s my sister’s name 😉 good one!)

  31. Sanaa Kamel May 19, 2015 at 5:54 AM #

    Hi Lindsay..
    I read tour mom’s story and I wish her soul rests in peace..
    well I’m living really hard time.. tears are my friends most of the time.. my father had been diagnosed with lung cancer “small cell carcinoma” on 25th September and now he’s living his last days..
    I read your story hoping that it can release my sorrow and heartache and pain..
    how do you feel after your loss?
    it took you so many time or what?
    I’m having terrible days and time..

    • Sanaa Kamel June 3, 2015 at 6:27 AM #

      My father left to heaven on 29th May at 07:45 AM.. I was there when his last breaths were there.. he left us peacefully.. he suffered a lot and all I have right now is some videos and pictures that I keep watching and cry..
      Daddy, I hope you rest in peace till we meet again … I love you

      • Lindsay August 21, 2016 at 2:53 AM #

        Oh my goodness, Sanaa, I am so terribly sorry for your loss! And I apologize for just now responding to your comment from so long ago. I hope you’ve been able to heal some, but to answer your questions, I felt empty- for a very, very long time after my mother passed. I felt like life had very little meaning. We all just die, but then we’re supposed to carry on like nothing’s happened and we’re all fine. I resented that I was expected to “move on” – and that other people who loved mom – our family – were moving on. It took years, but that acute pain started to dissipate. It’s always there. I still have dreams that she has come back to life and is still alive. I wake up and realize that she’s still gone, and I panic. I have little panic attacks. But all in all, time does heal the wounds- as they say. The pain is still there, its just dulled. And the birth of my daughter a little over two years ago has given me renewed purpose and faith and filled my tank with love and laughter. I’m still scared- constantly- and mostly fearful of death when I wasn’t really before. I am curious as to how you feel and how you’ve been processing your feelings. Thinking of you…

  32. Brandi July 9, 2015 at 3:19 PM #

    Wow, this mirrors my own experience with my mother So Much! She died June 1st of this year of Pancreatic Cancer.. A month shy of 1 year since her diagnosis. Hers was inoperable since it was wrapped around an artery in her pancreas. They tried chemo first to try and shrink the tumor to attempt to remove.. That didn’t work so they tried radiation. She also stated she would have Never gone through with the radiation treatment if she knew how terribly it was going to mess with her digestive system. To make matters worse her gallbladder was in Terrible condition and full of “sludge and stones” according to the doctors. They didn’t want to remove it due to her frail condition.

    My mother also collapsed and passed suddenly.. In a matter of minutes. I tried to resuscitate her while we waited for the paramedics but it was no use. I was so shocked at how quickly she left. I lived 500 miles away but had been staying with them for almost to weeks to care for her (and intended to until she passed.. Thought we had a few months, not days..). I’m grateful I was there for her passing but I still struggle and grieve deeply over her loss. I’m glad she’s out of pain however she was one of those patients who was afraid and Not come to terms with her fate. She and my father had a very rough last few years and things had just fallen into place for them. I was an only child with a 5-year-old daughter whom my mother was extremely close to.. She took it as hard as I did.

    Anyway, I don’t normally comment on blog posts but this one hit home and I wanted to share my story as well.

    • Lindsay February 5, 2016 at 11:16 PM #

      Brandi- I am so, so sorry for you loss. And thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing your story so openly as well. It connects us- mere strangers, as we can sit here and read one another’s mirror-image narratives. This life-altering, soul-shattering event that you and I each experienced in our own corners of the world. There is a strange beauty in that connectivity. I think it’s what attracts me to life. These obscure but profound connections. Anyway, my heart hurts for you and your little girl. I wish my little Eleanor was able to know her GG (grand goddess) Peggy. That’s something I don’t think I’ll ever recover from. But if you’re anything like me, then your daughter fuels your soul and fires up your heart to push forward and forge ahead and make life the best damn experience ever for her!! <3

  33. Trisha July 29, 2015 at 11:14 AM #

    I needed to read this. I’m glad I read this. Thank you for sharing your story as I am living your story at this moment. My mother has PC and I am her care giver. It’s hard. So hard because I love her so very much and will never be able to let her go.

    God Bless!

    Trisha

    • Lindsay February 5, 2016 at 11:02 PM #

      Trisha, I apologize that I am only just now seeing your comment and responding. I took a bit of a hiatus from this blog (for about a year!) I am so sorry to hear about your mother. Please let me know if there is anything I can do or if you ever want to talk. It is such a difficult road. I am here if you need me.

  34. Dara September 18, 2015 at 3:42 AM #

    I’m true my sorry for your loss. I know what it’s like and it is not easy. My mom passed away March 29th 2014 due to pancreatic cancer. Tho they found cancer I her lungs.
    My mom was my rock my world my everything. She wAnted to loose weight so she walked and that but then after a few months she really started dropping weight. That’s when I noticed a week before Christmas something wants right. My dad n mom n I met up to look for a present and we were walking into home drop when I felt something stop me n said turn and look at your mom. I did and she was yellow. I called out to my dad n mom said what now. Then dad noticed. Then Christmas eve they diagnose her with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. We called my brother to come home from Korea. He came home for a month n we tried different things to maybe fight it. My brother n dad went to a appointment with her new years eve and they said there was cancer in her lungs but that it wouldn’t be what would kill her. They have her 6 months to a year to live. She didn’t even make it that long. My dad and I stayed in hospital with her that night. About 6 am the nurses came in to clean mom up n We went to call me brother we knew it wouldng be much longer. Well between us going to the wait room n talking to my brother in the phone to walking like 6 steps back to her room she passed away. The doctors we’re wrong what would kill her. Her lungs just filled with cancer. I didn’t want to leave her there I wanted to take her home so badly. I went back home that morning n cried to sleep.

    I had a dream tho that I was at the hospital n my dad said he would be right back and walked out of the room. I was watching mom. One min she was breathing the next she wasnt. Everything seemed slow motion cause I ran for the door calling for my dad n nurses anyone. But when I got to the door n opened it there was nothing there. I turned around and there she was sitting on the bed her normal healthy self. She got up off the bed and walked over to me and pet my check and smiled at me. She said something but I don’t know what and then she walked out the door. That was so hard.

    I take flowers to her memorial thing I. Her birthday (which was yesterday) n the days he died. I am happy she didn’t suffer like my dad she could have. But I’m so mad that cancer kills so many people. I know one day at a time. I pray for all those who have lost a love one to this nasty disease. Please help find a cure n please donate.

    • Lindsay February 5, 2016 at 10:40 PM #

      Dara, I am so sorry for your loss. Your mom sounds like a wonderful and amazing woman! I know that dream you had, about her sitting up, well, in bed, stroking your cheek as she walked by you, and passing out the door, was hard. But that was her telling you that she is OK and she doesn’t want you to worry about her anymore. She’s with you. I pray for strength and comfort for you. We will all be united in the end. <3

  35. Cindy November 16, 2015 at 5:09 PM #

    Lindsay I recently lost my Husband to Pancreatic Cancer. He was diagnosed in July of 2014.
    He was having stomach pain, nausea, and was jaundice. His doctor was very good and within a week she diagnosed him with this cancer. In August he had a stent put in and in September he had the Whipple surgery. He started Chemo on Christmas eve day. This was a trial that he was accepted into for people who had the Whipple procedure. Needless to say he only managed 4 treatments and it was too much for him to continue. Since he quit the trials it seemed like Cancer Care quit him. His oncologist went on maternity leave. We went to emergency twice with what the oncologist thought might be a bowel obstruction, but after CT scans they found nothing. In March of 2015 he had blood work and another CT scan and his CA19-9 markers were elevated but again no one said anything. In July the oncologist said the cancer had spread. His CA19-9 levels were over 15,000. He was told he had about 6 months. He passed away at home on August 29,2015 , eleven months after diagnosis. This cancer is the worse I have ever seen. My only comfort is that I had eleven months with my Husband and there was nothing left unsaid between us. We loved each other very much. He was only 62. I live in Manitoba Canada and not one building was lit up on November 13 2015 There is no awareness for pancreatic cancer and yet it will become the number one killer by 2020.
    Thank you for your story. I can feel your sadness.

    • Lindsay February 5, 2016 at 10:03 PM #

      Cindy, Firstly, I am so, so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story. It sounds like there were a few parallels to my mom’s story (Whipple procedure, trial, Cancer Care quitting on them, the spiking CA19-9 levels, passing at home less than a year after diagnosis). I know that pancreatic passed up breast cancer. I was talking with my OB the other day about screening for it, and she said there aren’t really good ways to detect it yet. I’ve slacked off in my research over the past year, but I intend to pick it back up and be more active in the pancreatic action network community. Please reach out to me any time. Again, I’m so sorry and am sending prayers your way.

  36. Elizabeth February 12, 2016 at 12:39 AM #

    Dear Lindsay,
    I am so very sorry for your loss. I am the oldest girl in a family of 5 children. My mother is 81 yrs old and was just diagnosed with borderline resectable pancreatic cancer. She slipped in the shower right after Christmas and cracked her ribs. Very quickly she became jaundiced and started not to want to eat…nothing tasted good. They originally thought it was her liver. Two stents were put in. Her Dr. at Strong Memorial Hospital said it was found early and they are hopeful that she can beat it. Well this past friday she had a CT scan done and it made her so ill- vomiting and worse, that she has lost 7 pounds. I am here being her 24/7 caregiver and she won’t eat. Shes tired- nothing tastes good! She hasn’t even had her first chemo treatment- and she said everything tastes metallic. I am frustrated, scared and exhausted from pleading with her to eat. My mom is my best friend! We’ve travelled so much together and have enjoyed each other’s company so deeply. All of my friends have always marvelled at our closeness and the amazing sweetness in my mom. This is so overwhelming and I am a worrier like you! Everything I read makes me cry and feel more desperate!! I pray and I beg her to fight but she’s already so weak…..I don’t know what else to do.

    • Lindsay February 27, 2016 at 11:59 PM #

      Oh, Elizabeth. I am so, so sorry. I can feel the suffering and fear in your words. From the research that I’ve done, I think getting in on some clinical trials is always a good thing. Start with the PanCan Action Network. Is she going to have surgery to have the tumor removed (whipple?)? My mom went to MD Anderson for her whipple. What is her oncologist like? Do you feel like she has doctors advocating for her? I would also (if I were in your shoes) think about talking to a holistic doctor/naturopath as well. They may be able to help with some ideas around appetite and taste. My mom lost a lot of weight from loss of appetite. You’re right, it’s important to maintain as much strength as possible for treatment. I know it’s so scary. Hang in there. I know, much easier said than done. Do y’all have a strong support network? Are your siblings nearby?

  37. Stefanie March 9, 2016 at 12:30 PM #

    Lindsay,
    Thank you for sharing your heart wrenching yet beautiful story. I have been searching for any relief in my life and came across your page. My mom was diagnosed 2 months ago and just underwent the Whipple procedure Feb 12th. We had her post op at the Chicago hospital yesterday and she is doing great. Her tumor was found at the head of the pancreas and dr says it has been growing for 5-10 years and it is sad we have no early detection. She has her first visit with the oncologist in 3 weeks to go over her chemo/radiation treatment. They classify her around a stage IIA-B since they found it in a few lymph nodes close to the pancreas but as of right now they haven’t seen it spread to other organs and the doctor was able to remove anything visible. My family is just in complete shock because she is only 64 and so healthy, loves to workout and just hard to see a loved one go through all this and not know the outcome. She is a high school teacher so the students (past and present) have all been a great support as well as the community and my family. She has a Facebook page called Praying for Ruth Klaus where everyone sends prayers or photos and memories to help her get through this. We are just at the beginning stages, we got past the first big hurdle of being able to even have the surgery, and now the next phase is her treatment and hopefully clean scans for awhile. I am her only girl so she so desperately wants to see me get married and have kids so I know she will fight to end for all of us. Thank you for sharing your story and I know the exact pain you felt when you first found out and during the surgery, but being a realist myself, I am scared to know the feeling you felt when you lost her. This cancer is by far the worst one and I have to live each day enjoying life with her and saying my blessings and just pray for some break through for the future. I am currently submerging myself in holding benefits and raising money for pancreatic cancer research and it seems to help with the coping. I am hearing a lot of other stories and learning more information about this awful disease. So if anyone is reading this and needs an outlet, get involved with PC foundations like Lustgarten or Lindas Hope or anything, they have run/walks all around the country or you can host your own benefit. I am hosting a paint/wine night April 23rd called Painting for a Purpose benefiting Lustgarten Foundation. it helps you internally and you are also helping to raise awareness and research funds for this disease in the future! God bless to everyone going through this!

    • Lindsay April 26, 2016 at 11:56 AM #

      Stefanie, thank you for sharing your experience so openly, and I am so, so sorry that your mother is going through this. Pancreatic cancer is a terrible illness, and I am with you- they need to discover early detection methods! It’s shocking that it has been growing for 5-10 years! Who knows how long my mother had it. (And in retrospect, she had issues with diverticulosis. I wonder if there could be a correlation?)
      It is such a cruel cancer, because it doesn’t discriminate. Like your mother, mine was also relatively young (59), incredibly healthy, and had no known preconditions for cancer. My dad is now 63 (almost 64) and it is hard not to live in fear that anything can happen at any time, literally out of the blue.
      It is wonderful that you are volunteering and raising awareness and funds through Lustgarten Foundation. The Pan Can Action Network also does great things to raise awareness, fund research, and they are very active on capital hill with their advocacy campaigns.
      I am praying for you, your mother, and your family. The good news is that there are more and more survivors, especially with some of the clinical trials coming out (I would tune in to Pan Can Network for updates on those). I’m glad surgery went well and they they have removed all detected remnants of tumor. Will she undergo chemo or radiation to treat the lymph nodes?

  38. Desert Rose March 30, 2016 at 1:09 PM #

    My father passed away 3 weeks ago from pancreatic cancer. 2 weeks before he left us, he was diagnosed with this silent killer. He went to his Dr as he had a stomach pain. She thought it was his appendix. The hospital did a scan and found it. I live abroad and flew back tonengland the day my father was diagnosed. When I arrived he was talking, laughing, sitting and walking. Days later he deteriorated rapidly. The Drs told us to take him home as there was no more they could do. So we did. He did a few days later surrounded by his wife and children. We miss him dearly but are grateful he did not suffer with a prolonged illness. He was very strong and knew he wouldn’t survive it. He held my hand and said he had a good life. It’s still hard to believe. It’s like I’m watching a movie and that this is not real.

    • Lindsay April 26, 2016 at 11:42 AM #

      Oh, I’m so so sorry for your loss. I completely understand what you mean when you say it’s like you’re watching a movie and that this isn’t real. I STILL feel that way. Four years later. I wake up sometimes and think about calling Mom. I have dreams about her that are so vivid, I think she is still alive. I have talked to others who have lost parents or loved ones, and many told me that they wished they could say it gets easier. In a way it does, with time. You learn to live with the pain- the loss. But it remains strange, always. It remains a gaping wound. A hole in your heart and soul that nothing can fill. I think that is our legacy to the ones we love. We hold them in our hearts, always and forever, just as they hold us in theirs. That is their legacy to us. We – all of us – will always be remembered in the hearts of those who love us and whom we love. And one day, we well ALL be together again. Thinking of you and your family…

  39. Keith May 17, 2016 at 6:14 PM #

    Hi Lindsay,

    I just came across your story after doing some googling on what happens towards the end of one’s life with pancreatic cancer (i.e. if the person can pass away suddenly, or if it’s a more gradual process). My partner’s father was diagnosed while I was away on vacation last month, and I was unfortunately greeted with the news upon my return. We are still waiting on the biopsy (they botched the first one), but the prognosis doesn’t look good (the cancer has spread to the liver). He’s a very stubborn French man, so I’m not sure he’s willing to “give-up” and not do chemo, but we also don’t want to see him in pain, especially if chemo just means a couple of weeks.

    My main concern though is what my mother-in-law will do. She’s only 68, and seems to be in great shape, so I fear for her loneliness. Luckily we live only 5 minutes away, but I’m afraid that she won’t be able to cope. The other day, I was at their house on my father-in-law’s birthday, and he turned to and while grabbing her hand, he said, “We’ve had a great life together.” It was devastating for me to hear, and I had to leave the room because I was embarrassed to cry in front of them (or somehow make the situation about me). Anyway, how has your father coped with your mother’s death? Was the mourning period long? I know a bit about mourning from reading Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking,” but perhaps I’ll revisit the book to help. I hope you are well, and I’m sorry for the length of this post – it was sort of a free flow of words, I hope that is ok.

    • Lindsay July 4, 2016 at 1:25 PM #

      Hi Keith,

      Firstly, I am so sorry that your family is going through this and about your father in law. Thank you so much for reaching out and asking about this aspect of the loss that many people haven’t (usually it’s more people looking to understand and process their own grief). You are so kind and compassionate to be thinking about your mother in law and her grief and future happiness.

      I am no expert on grief, but I know that, just from my personal experience, that every single person has their own unique reaction to and way of processing their grief from the loss of a family member. I’ve also had quite a few very close friends lose parents to cancer, and I can tell you that not one spouse had reacted the same, although I’ve picked up on a few generalized trends – which of course will not apply to every person, because everyone has their own personality and way of handling such a loss.

      Generally speaking, men tend to “move-on” more quickly- sort of get on with their lives, not talk about their feelings, accept reality at face value. My dad remarried, rather quickly in my opinion. When mom first died, he said he could not imagine being married again. He thought marriage was sort of a one time thing. In retrospect, he was probably telling me these things to comfort me as I was worried he’d go out and get remarried to someone who would replace us, his children, as his most important thing in life. I think he silently suffered loneliness for about a year before he met his current wife. He likes his alone time and has always been very independent- piddling in the yard, not hugely social. It’s been hard to see him change for someone else, going to parties, doing things that I thought were out of character for him. But I think he’s happy, and that’s what matters. Other friends I’ve had who have lost moms, similar situation where dad moves on and gets remarried rather quickly. I’ve talked to other friends about this and the general consensus is that men – at least of that generation – tend to have a harder time being alone. They need to quickly find companionship. Someone to take care of them. Even if that person is the polar opposite in personality than their previous wife (like I said, this is a huge generalization. I have a friend who’s mom passed and dad has not remarried nor seems to be in any rush to).

      Alternatively, my friends who have lost their dads to cancer have almost had the opposite struggle where mom sort of withdraws and the children are urging mom to get out and meet new people, date, move on with life. Again- a generalization, but this has been my experience.

      Your sweet concerns are well-founded. How is their support system, beyond their children and immediate family? Do they have close friends? My dad started strengthening bonds with a few friends after my mom passed. She will need to have some people in her corner that she can count on to lift her up when she doesn’t feel like moving.

      Maybe you could encourage her to join an interest group. Does she like to dance? (A friend’s mom got really in to tango and swing after her divorce and met her current husband that way).

      Also, cancer loss support groups are very helpful.

      Many families who have lost a loved one to cancer find a little bit of hope in volunteering for a group focused on that type of cancer. My family has been really involved with the Pan Can Action Network. There is a 5 k race every year in many major cities. It is great connecting with other families who have lost a loved one and helping to raise awareness and funds to fight the cancer and find a cure in honor of your loved one. She can get on the PanCan Action Network mailing list.

      I’m happy to talk about other ideas with you. I’ll also shoot this over to you in an email in case you don’t get pinged from my reply comment.

      Again, I’m so sorry your family is going through this. Sending positive thoughts and love your way.

  40. Gail June 5, 2016 at 11:31 AM #

    When my sister was first diagnosed I did what you did Lindsay; I googled pancreatic cancer. I found your article in that initial search. My sister died January 7, 2016. The thing is you never really have a chance with pancreatic cancer. The odds speak for themselves. My sister had been a nurse for over 30 years….she knew. She tried to give us hope, and we accepted it as she wished, while all along knowing the ending. She told me about a month before she died that one of the hardest things for her to deal with was seeing the pain in the faces of her husband and children. My sister was beautiful, vivacious, loving; a truly compassionate person and nurse. I am 10 years her senior and she was more my daughter then my sister. It was difficult for me to understand why her and not me. It was just so out of what I perceived the rhythm of life to be. I want to fund a nursing scholarship in her name. More then anything I want to see her beautiful smile again. Maybe someday……I am sorry for your loss Lindsay. It is a terrible journey, a terrible loss.

    • Lindsay July 4, 2016 at 12:59 PM #

      Gail, as I sit here and read your comment, tears are welling up in my eyes. I feel such pain for you and your sister, and her family. I feel your pain. Just an inkling. I have four younger siblings, and I can not even imagine watching my youngest sister, who is also 10 years my junior (and has felt, often, like a daughter to me as well) going through that terrible illness- preceding me in death.
      As I read your words, from your sister, about the pain she felt watching the suffering on the faces of her family, I melt in to sorrow, hearing my own mom’s voice, that she was not ready to leave her little chicks, her attempts to assuage our sorrow- give us hope when there was none. I think of my own daughter and the fear I have of one day – later, sooner – who knows, going through that with her.
      The brutal truth of life’s temporary nature- our frail, human mortality, is a gut-wrenchingly painful reality to live with. I think we do our best to avoid ever thinking about it – until we have to. Until the loss- the great, big massive hole of our beloved’s passing stares us straight in the face.
      Life is cruel in this sense. We have the most amazingly beautiful capacity to love with our whole hearts. But that means we feel the most devastating blow of utter despair when it is ripped from our souls.
      I am so, so sorry for your loss, sweet Gail. There are no words that will comfort you, as I know. I only pray that you find strength in the love that is still there, that never dies- that spiritual connection. I hope your heart can feel peaceful and that your sorrow lessons day by day. We are survivors. That’s what they would want for us – your sister, my mother. Love to you…

  41. Daniel August 10, 2016 at 9:54 AM #

    Thanks for the article, It brings back basically the the chain of events i went through with my father and pancreatic cancer 6 months ago….hopefully in our life time they can find a cure….or at the very least improve hope!

    • Lindsay August 21, 2016 at 12:59 AM #

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Daniel. I guess it’s difficult to understand what it’s like to lose someone to this disease unless you’ve tragically been there. From what I’ve seen lately in the research, it looks like the focus will be on gene therapy- identifying certain genes, how to neutralize them, and test for them. The frustrating thing for any of us right now is that there are no definitive screening tests they can do other than MRIs, etc. I dream of a day when a doctor can take a sample of your blood and literally be able to screen for all types of cancer. Actually, I dream of a day when cancer is no longer a threat, but something that can be treated with medicine. Maybe those suffering from the plague thought something similar, and then- boom, penicillin. (I know it’s not that easy, but just saying- c’mon technology!!) Thanks for commenting, and again, I’m so sorry for your loss. Please feel free to reach out if you need someone to talk to!

  42. Arcadio Juarez August 10, 2016 at 5:02 PM #

    hi Lindsay just started researching because my doctor told me I need a biopsy but it doesn’t look good clots in my left leg and lungs and shadows on my pancreas. Just wanted to know your thoughts on how soon I should tell my children this they are 36.35, and 26. i am 63 have lead a good life just wish I could spare them the coming of my death or ease the pain somehow. I am a realist and know the odds are dreadful so I accept my fate. I already loss one son at age of 26 3yrs ago looking forward to seeing him again hopefully

    • Lindsay August 21, 2016 at 1:30 AM #

      Oh Arcadio. I don’t even know what to say. I am so, so sorry. But let’s not jump the gun until you get your results back.
      Your question is such a personal one, and I don’t know that I have the best answer for you. All I can say is that I’m glad my mother told us when she did. She was in your position, where she knew she had a spot on her pancreas. She was waiting for test results, and for some reason she had to wait months. She told me that waiting, keeping that dread to herself, was so isolating, terrifying and terribly hard to do. She felt such relief when she was able to tell us and unburden herself.
      She waited until she was properly diagnosed with a tumor on her pancreas.
      Do you have the biopsy scheduled?
      If it were me, I would want to talk to my children right away, so they can hold you through this. They will be broken hearted, but kids can be resilient. You’d be surprised. We were so strong for mom, and looking back, I am so, so glad that we could be her support team- her warriors.
      Your kids will not begrudge you that.
      I am also so incredibly sorry that you lost your son. Now that I am a mother, my greatest fear in life is that- losing my child. I can’t imagine the pain you’ve been through. I also know what you mean when you say you look forward to seeing him again. I feel the same way about my mother. It’s so hard to miss them so much that your heart feels like it will implode!
      I’d like to stay in touch with you, if you don’t mind, to get updates on your status. There are some great resources out there. Again, I don’t want to jump the gun if you haven’t received any results back yet, but Pan Can Action Network is a GREAT news source for all of the cutting edge trials and gene therapy you may qualify for.
      If you do get a positive diagnosis, and if you can, go to MD Anderson in Houston. They are the leading pancreatic cancer treatment facility.
      And I don’t believe pancreatic cancer has to be a death sentence. My mom, her name was Peggy, would not allow us to think negatively or research on the Internet, and she constantly referred to herself as someone who would “beat this thing”. Her spirit lives on because of how strong and positive she was, though I know it wasn’t always easy for her.
      Check out this (and other) stage 4 survivors! http://www.cancercenter.com/community/survivors/peggy-kessler/ Ironically, her name is Peggy too! There is hope. There is always hope. Hope and love. Hold on to those. Don’t ever let them go.
      My thoughts are with you Arcadio. And my prayers.

  43. sarah November 6, 2016 at 7:38 PM #

    i would love for you to contact doctor allen(allenpresleymed@gmail.com)..he is a good doctor and am glad to refer you to him because he helped my mom and i know he can also help you..

    • Lindsay November 18, 2016 at 4:24 PM #

      Thanks for sharing, Sarah!

  44. Hilary December 7, 2016 at 1:00 AM #

    Lindsay- even though this story was written year ago, it still sadly has relevance three years later. I remember reading this story a year and a half ago when my mom was diagnosed with pan can IV and she passed away last Thursday December 1st at 57 years old, I’m 25. I can only agree how you say it makes you feel like “you want to live life to the fullest or not at all”. Thank you for sharing this, it has made me feel less alone.

    • Lindsay December 17, 2016 at 2:22 AM #

      Hilary, darling Hilary. Thank you. Thank you for saying you feel less alone. I don’t know how we are all supposed to survive in this world – without our mothers, our fathers, our siblings, our children – lost to cancer or some other ill. I am so, heart breakingly sorry for your loss. I mean that with the utmost sincerity. Because I know that loss never wanes. It grows more manageable, but it’s an unmistakeable, un-fillable hole that will always exist in your soul. One of the things I’ve learned through this tremendous heart break is that we all share the same kind of love for those we lose. We are all part of one whole- a spiritual oneness with God/the universe – whatever your choice word. And we are broken apart trying to connect to one another. I wish I could be in a room with you – and all those who have commented on this post – to just share one big communal hug. A touch of our hands, to know we are all real and we are all going through this brutal life together. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Glennon Doyle Melton or Mary Anne Williamson, but their books have helped me tremendously when it comes to the existential burdens of loneliness & loss juxtaposed to the richness of love in life.. You can’t have one without the other. The brutal and beautiful. It’s so hard for me to grasp, still, that I can be in so much pain but also experience so much joy in loving my daughter at the same time. I just hope that you are able to find the light and hope that I have found – in whatever way possible. It’s so difficult.

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