Posted by: Kathy | October 11, 2010

My Journey With Pancreatic Cancer

In December 2007, tragedy hit our family when my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was something so unexpected, as the diagnosis came as a huge shock to all of us. I sit here today, almost 3 years later, and I can honestly say that I still don’t understand what happened. Cancer doesn’t run in our family, my mom was the healthiest person I knew, she took care of herself, and her parents both lived into their 90s. Although I am an emotional person, I’m also logical one in a way. I can’t put two and two together and figure out how my mom got pancreatic cancer, especially since she had no risk factors for this horrible disease.

As the shock from the diagnosis lessened and my mom seemed to be responding to treatment, a feeling of hope emerged. More than anything, my mom was determined to beat this disease. If determination alone could have saved her, my mom would still be with us today. Even though I held on tightly to hope, I admit that I was scared most of the time. I knew the grim statistics associated with pancreatic cancer and that most people didn’t live long following diagnosis. Clinical trials that extended a patient’s life by a week or two were considered successful. It was unbelievable.

My fear intensified and the shock returned about 8 months after my mom’s diagnosis, as I began to realize that she was going to die and we were powerless to save her. My family’s wishes, hopes, prayers, and dreams just weren’t going to come true. Pancreatic cancer stripped my mom of everything, filled her life with pain, and turned her into a walking skeleton. It was horrible to watch. I pleaded with God to save her. I wasn’t ready to lose my mom. I needed her. But by the time she died all I wanted for my mom was peace.

At my mom’s funeral, my dad called me his rock. He told people that he could have never gotten through my mom’s illness and death without my love and support. Our small family moved through this terrible time together. I don’t think we could have gotten through any of this alone. I was so worried about being strong for my dad and my kids that I didn’t really grieve myself until almost a year after my mom died. By then, the pain from my mom’s death was crippling and I was a mess.

Over the past year, with the support of my family, some close friends, and my pastor, I’ve started working my way through the many emotions that slammed me after my mom died. The hardest emotion for me to get through was guilt, but there were many others like sadness, disbelief, and anger. The intensity of the pain from my mom’s loss scared me at times. That pain still lingers, although things have gotten easier. I know that I need to keep moving forward, to keep healing. It is what my mom would have wanted. I also have a new understanding of many things, especially who I am and the importance of certain people in my life. The knowledge that I’ve obtained because of the loss of my mom is hard to explain.

Losing someone like my mom is a great tragedy because of all she brought to her family. I often think of the loss of my mom’s love and devotion to her grandkids and all that my kids are missing without my mom in their lives. I feel especially bad for my daughter because she never really got to know her grandmother, although she knows how much her grandmother loved her. 

Losing my mom at age 39 was something I never expected and I miss her. The journey through the illness and loss of a loved one is different for everyone. There us no right or wrong way to do it. Things are different now. I am different. I fear for my health and that of my kids in the future. But I’m working through the loss and the pain and all the other emotions the best I can, one small step at a time.

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Responses

  1. EVERY LOSS MAKES US MORE AWARE OF THE PRESENT. IT STILL IS A MYSTERY TO ME. I HAVE PANCREATIC CANCER. I HAVE HOPE AND FAITH IN THE ALMIGHTY. I REALLY DON’T KNOW EXACTLY WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO ME. MAYBE YOU KNOW MORE THAN ME. THANK YOU FOR SHARING. WAYNE

    • Hi Wayne:

      I wish you all the best in your fight against pancreatic cancer. Although my mom wasn’t one of them, I have met survivors of this disease. I hope you become one of them. Hope and faith are important. Only God knows what is going to happen to us, to our loved ones. It is still a mystery to me why my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but I have to believe there’s a reason. I know she’s now at peace. Please hold onto your faith. I believe God has a plan for all of us in our life on this earth. I will pray for you. Take care, Kathy

  2. i too lost my mom to this awful disease this past year, Jan 2010. i am still trying to realize the fact that she is gone, i read your post and it said everything i have been feeling, thank you.
    We will always miss her….its comforting to know
    that there are others and we are not by ourselves.
    Thanks for sharing…..

    peace 😉

  3. So enjoyed your post about your perspective almost three years later….your Mother sounds like such a wonderful person! I am just approaching 8 months since losing my Mom and I am still reeling. You are right that things are never the same; WE will never be the same…I am comforted by knowing that there are so many of us in this club of loss and change. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Lost my mom in 2000, my sister in 2010, both to pancreatic cancer. Wrote sister a song she never heard, some say maybe she has. It’s called “Kinda Hard to Say Goodbye” Susan’s Song.

    I’m sure you know by now, they never really leave us. peace, j

    ps: check out song on my website (www.autrysong.com); stay on first page and it will play for free. j


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