or as Mom would say,
Catchy Headline. Making Peace with Pancreatic Cancer.
I'd be lying if I said we were there yet.
The anger and frustration at this physical assault on mom is terrifying in its intensity. Pancreatic Cancer is truly one of the most vile and relentless of the cancers. Coping with cancer? Maybe. Make peace with it? Not until we have found the cure.
Then there will be peace for a lifetime of moms and dads, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers.
Until that time, we struggle to co-exist with the beast that is taking mom away from us one painful pound at a time.
The ranting and raving, crying and the slamming of fists doesn't change the diagnosis. Eventually the rage boils intself out and we're left with the only real decision:
Cope well? Or cope poorly?
For the sake of our sanity, and the time we have left with mom, we are dealing with the cancer. And I hope we're coping well most of the time.
Dealing with cancer. New topic to test our mettle. Here are some of the things we've learned:
1) I've said it many times thru-out this website. Knowledge is power. Ask questions, research the treatment plan, read what you can. The more you know, the better prepared you will be for the journey ahead.
2) Find a doctor you trust. Know that he or she has your best interest at the heart of your treatment plan. Know that you can call them anytime with any question. Then trust them. They will become like family by the end.
3) Gather your support team and lean on them. Whether it's close family and friends, or neighbors. You will need them. Be conscious of your weakness during this time and let your loved ones help. And that means communicating. When they ask what they can do, have a list ready! Pick up prescription at pharmacy, mow the yard, please make a dinner and bring it by. Whatever you may need, you will find they will want to do. One easy way we found to keep the lines of communication open was by starting a free website for mom at CaringBridge. It has been an extremely helpful way for friends and family to know how mom was doing and also for mom to be encouraged through the many notes of encouragement and love posted to her site.
4) Plan a trip. You read that right. Plan a trip, a vacation, a getaway. There is nothing more beneficial to your spirit, your body and your mental wellness than to get away from the cancer grind occasionally and really Live Life. I promise. You can do it. Give yourself permission to enjoy the people, the places, and the activities that give you great pleasure. Take time throughout your treatment to indulge your loves. Mom calls this Living Your Best Life Ever. The cancer will still be there when you get back...
5) Avail yourself of the helps offered by the various pancreatic cancer organizations. It may be a seminar offered, or news of a clinical trial you would be elgibile for, or it may be a fund-raising project you can give back to. Take part in PurpleStride or a PurpleLight Vigil. All these are ways to begin coping with cancer. Each organization is there to help put an end to pancreatic cancer. And that heartbeat drums hard for us. Getting involved may enable you to start coping with cancer, and finding new purpose in each day.
6) Do the hard thing, and start setting your affairs in order. Not easy to say, even harder to do, but there is a certain amount of peace that comes with making sure all the end-of-life issues are handled. Do you have a will, and is it in order? Funeral plans thought out, maybe even arranged? What about the little things? Mom wanted all her granddaughters to have a specially picked out piece of jewelry from her collection, so she and I went and picked out small, pretty jewelry boxes, and she wrote a note to each granddaughter and made sure I knew which item went in each box. It gave her a tremendous amount of peace knowing that her wishes would be followed when the time came. And hopefully, that time is a long time away, but coping with cancer, means facing the hard things like knowing this disease is terminal.
7) And finally, prepare for the anticipatory grief that will swamp you and your friends and family. Grief is grief or so I thought. But there's a different kind of grief when you lose a loved one inch by inch. Pancreatic Cancer will take mom's life. Not today and probably not tomorrow, but one day, much sooner than is fair, it will finish the job. The dread can be overwhelming. Prepare for it, find either a counselor trained in grief counseling or a minister that you trust to help you walk thru this time.
Coping with cancer is an every minute of every day event for my mom. She deals with it daily, emotionally and physically.
I'd love to say she has triumphed over pancreatic cancer. But that wouldn't be true. What I can say, is that we are coping. And living. And smiling. Sometimes crying, but honestly, just as often laughing.
There is life after a cancer diagnosis. It's not the same life, but it is life. Your life and My life. It is what we make of it. And we want mom's life to count for something. So, yes, we made a conscious decision to deal with cards as we were dealt.
We are coping with cancer. And I think, most days, that we are coping well on this pancreatic cancer journey.
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