Posted by: Kathy | June 28, 2009

The Human Side of Pancreatic Cancer

It has been said that pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, with a survival rate of only 4%. I’ve heard people say that a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is a death sentence. I could fill this page with statistics associated with pancreatic cancer, the scientific side of pancreatic cancer, what you’d hear from a doctor. But pancreatic cancer also has a human side, an emotional side.

After my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I experienced many emotions – sadness, helplessness, disbelief, shock, and anger. But the most frequent emotion I felt in the days between my mom’s diagnosis and death was fear.

Of course, my biggest fear was losing my mom to cancer. I didn’t want her to die. I wanted her to be one of the people who survived, and every day I prayed for a miracle. I feared the disease itself because I knew how deadly pancreatic cancer could be.

I feared not being able to give my mom what she needed. I had no idea what each day would bring, especially during the last few weeks of her life. Would my mom have a good day? Would she feel sick or weak from the chemotherapy? Would she be in pain? I feared that I wouldn’t be able to help my mom if she needed me and that somehow I’d let her down. My mom took care of my grandmother (her mom) after she had a stroke, and I feared that I’d never be able to show my mom the level of compassion she gave to her mom.

I feared how my son would handle my mom’s death. He was very close to his grandmother and he knew she was sick and most likely wouldn’t survive her illness. I also feared how my dad would be after my mom died. They had been married for 43 years and I know my mom worried about him as well.

I also was afraid that my mom didn’t know how much I loved her or how much I appreciated all that she did for me. There was so much I wanted to tell her, but I waited too long to tell her, and then it was too late.

For every experience there is an emotion, and people may react differently to the same experience. Cancer touches the lives of many people in different ways, producing a variety of emotions. There’s a human side to pancreatic cancer, one that deals with emotions instead of the science. And although the science part of pancreatic cancer is important, I believe the human or emotional side of pancreatic cancer has a deeper impact.

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