88 Keys of Playing the Piano of Life: Living with Pancreatic Cancer

by Cheryl Treadwell
(Sacramento, CA)

My mother was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in June of 2011. I remember the phone call from my sister in Kansas City, because I lived in Sacramento. I pulled together a conference call line from free conference call. com and we emailed and called her siblings, my siblings and close family friends to get on the phone line and let mom tell everyone as she can only do in her nurse language. But we immediately, began to pray as a family, that we will stand and be beside her every step of the way. My mom has been a nurse since 1954. A lot of first in the field as a black woman. My dad died in 1971 from Hodgkins disease for which there is now a cure. Mom loves the piano and has taught all of her children how to play the piano and all of her grandchildren too, the piano is her comforter. That is why this journey is like her playing all 88 keys on the keyboard. The songs will change as the journey changes from gospels, to musicals, she has played it all. God bless her! Well, like most, we began to search everything about the disease and only to find out this cancer is ugly. Mom was a breast cancer survivor from 2000, that seemed just a little hurdle, compared to what this battle is going to look like! So many things to think about, because my brother was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma skin cancer in April 2011, and he had moved in with her so that she could take care of him. I said to myself, this was going to be a tough journey. The song playing " We've Come this Far By Faith".

Today is October 1, 2012 and here we are one year and three months later and she is still here, and my brother is not. He died at 51 in November from his cancer. That was tough to grieve for my mom and all of us, but it seemed we had to move on and begin to fight with her. She has attended a wedding, buried a niece, a brother-in-law, made a trip to Chicago to see her best friend, who had leukemia and died in September 2011. She must know that God has something for her to still do. But praise God she is still here at 79 years young. We are planning her 80th birthday, with the expectation that God will see fit to keep her here a little while longer.We are all soaking up as much as we can so. But I know that the hard talks need to begin while things are going well. God gives me the strength. Amen.

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Jun 04, 2013
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The journey on the earth has ended
by: Cheryl Treadwell

Well my mom played the last key.She passed away on May 31st. The day started with a trip to the hospital in the storming rain.Her pressure was low. It was unspoken but we knew things were changing. From Monday thru Friday we struggled thru the nights.She had to have 4.5 liters of ascites fluid removed, her stint was blocked and there were signs of infection. Mom was delerious.They were concerned.She was moved to ICU @ 2:00 am the doctor came in and said its time to make a decision. We spoke to our momma and she agreed.We called all the family together to pray and gave it to God. She called her grands and sibs to tell them that she loved them.She finally took her last breath at 11:05 am. She is resting in God's arms.

May 27, 2013
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the journey continues
by: Cheryl Treadwell

5.27.13 Well my mom made it to 80 on May 26th 2013.But the cancer has spread and she is trying to cope as we are also. We honored her with a nice luncheon comprise of 60 of her best friends and family. she got to see her great grands two baby girls be born. Now what's next? how do we continue? long nights of suffering through the pain and suffering. It's so hard to watch.We are struggling. At the end of the day you want her here but in your soul you know that there is peace in her future. Some days you feel good that she feels good. other days well...I have 2 sisters & 1 brother and we need to make a decision soon.

Oct 01, 2012
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Beautiful Analogy
by: Jane

Dear Cheryl,
What a simply beautiful comparison...playing the piano of life...all 88 keys! And that is exactly what living with pancreatic cancer is like!
Your mother sounds like a treasure and I am so glad you shared her story. I find myself believing that the sacred hymns of faith will lead her each step of the way.
Trusting God's Grace to hold your hands and keep you close.
Always, Jane

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