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I was the caregiver for my twin sister who was diagnosed in September 2005 having Pancreatic Cancer. Her tumor not only involved the pancreas but also a vital artery, hence it was inoperable.
Her life expectancy, the doctor told her, was from six to eighteen months. This was, and is, devastating news for the patient as well as their families. My sister lived past those first projections. I believe because she took charge of her health care. She chose to have a second opinion and made the choice of Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa that worked with her through her journey of three plus years. Their personal care, compassion, for the patient AND their families, were a big "selling" point.
She was treated aggressively with TOMO radiation treatment and chemotherapy. Chemotherapy was scheduled for different sets. such as every other week, or five days a week for five weeks. She suffered night and day, unable to eat, dehydration, low blood counts and infusions. Radiation and chemotherapy making her terribly ill. Side effects of pain medication, as well as other medications. She had chronic kidney failure, severe lymphodema to the point she could not move herself. Then deep vein thrombosis. Right now there is only one or two accepted chemotherapies that have shown promise to keep this cancer in a chronic stage. There is no cure.
I watched her weight drop dramatically since the disease causes anorexia. Food doesn't taste good, look good or smell good. If she could eat she was wrenched with nausea, pain, and because the pancreas was not functioning well, food could not become the nourishment it was intended. When we would embrace one another, to say "I love you", she was mere skin and bones. She could no longer work and I watched her life change. This deadly disease robbed my twin sister of her independence, of her livelihood, her body and of who she had been. She crossed over to a world that has no cancer, October 3, 2008.
What does one do with this diagnosis that is the fourth leading cancer killer in America? Knowing that only 5% survive the five year mark. This cancer is on the rise in the United States. It is projected that in the year 2030 all cancers will increase 45%, while Pancreatic Cancer will increase 55%. Pancreatic Cancer receives the least amount (2%) of research funds from the NIH. We must raise awareness of symptoms, which usually show up too late, and increase funding for Research, if we are to lower that projection of 55% increase by 2030.
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Many thanks for your support -- and don't forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate too.