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Pancreatic cancer diagnosis

(10 Posts)
Ifyoubuildit Wed 23-Nov-16 12:36:40

DFIL Has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that has spread to his liver. There's no cure but he will start chemo the week after next.

It's so sad but he's stoic and is being very brave.

I wanted some insight from people who have been through similar. Particularly:

- we have young DCs (6 and 4) should we tell them? They don't see him very often so won't see him looking ill but don't know if we should prepare them for what's to come?

- at the moment he feels too ill to travel - will the chemo help this? He really wants to visit us but we live a 4 hour drive away and he couldn't manage the journey at the moment as he's in so much pain. He hasn't had any drugs apart from basic painkillers so we're hoping "proper" drugs might help the situation.

- does anyone know how long he might have? He's just had the initial diagnosis and has small growths on his liver. We've been told months not years but does that mean 1 month or 11?

Any insight would really be appreciated.


wageslave Wed 23-Nov-16 12:43:15

So sorry OP. I know 2 people who were diagnosed and they both passed away within weeks, it's a very difficult cancer to treat and often only discovered when far too late. flowers

FaithAscending Wed 23-Nov-16 12:45:44

Hi, I'm Faith. I'm no expert in this but have some knowledge which might help you (til someone else comes along).

I'm sorry this is happening. To answer your questions:
- it's up to you but I would tell the children personally. Not great detail but just that he's poorly and all have some medicine that will help him but he will feel poorly with it at first. It might be worth looking at the Macmillan website on how to explain this to them?
- The chemo is likely to make him feel worse, at least initially. It could well ease some of his symptoms but most people get fatigue, nausea and vomiting (it depends on the chemo you receive though). I wouldn't expect him to be able to make the journey for a while.
- prognosis is incredibly difficult, that's why they're so vague. It'll depend in part on how well he responds to the chemo. Secondary infections tend to be very serious when someone has cancer/is having chemo too. Months means just that - less than a year but likely more than a few weeks.

I hope that helps a bit (this is from my professional knowledge where I'm
not an expert but have some experience). Someone with personal experience might be able to help more.

Ifyoubuildit Wed 23-Nov-16 13:09:30

Thank you so much Faith.

FaithAscending Wed 23-Nov-16 14:01:41

I hope it helps a bit. Hopefully someone else will be along to give a bit more info soon.

QuoteMeYouFuckers Wed 23-Nov-16 14:05:19

My step-dad had cancer last year (a different type though) and was diagnosed after being suddenly ill with a chest infection.

I told my dc, who were 3&4 at the time, in very simple terms that he was poorly and that his lungs weren't working properly but the drs were giving him medicine to try and make him better (I knew it was terminal but didn't tell them that at that stage because he actually seemed quite well and normal (he still worked and went on daytrips etc but the chemo made him a lot more tired than normal)).

If you can get over to see your FIL, do so quite soon because how long your FIL actually has is really very difficult to say; my s-d's death came very quick and sudden so he didn't have that long, slow decline that's associated with a terminal illness. He was initially given up to 2 years but actually only made it to 2 months.

Be as honest as you can with your children - simplify it but don't hide the truth because they know when something is wrong and I think get more scared and unsettled when they're gone everything is alright when it's not. When my s-d died, I told my dc that he'd gone to hospital. Ds, 4 at the time, asked if he was going to die and I said yes, he probably was; the medicine wasn't helping very much and that his lungs had stopped working. They didn't see him die (I thought that would have been too much for them) but I told them as soon as I could and answered their questions as they asked them. I took their lead in that way.

They still ask about him and get upset that he's not here. The only thing I can do is give them a cuddle and say that we still think about him and remember him so that his memory is still with us. We go to church every now and then and light a candle for him and we wrote him a card when it was his birthday.

I don't know how much this is helping you but I thought I'd write a bit about my experience because my dc are of a similar age to yours. Sorry to read that you and your family are going through this and holes that your FIL responds to treatment and is as well as he can be.

LemonBreeland Wed 23-Nov-16 14:06:22

I don't know about that cancer specifically but my FIL was diagnosed with terminal cancer when my DC were 6 and 2. I had planned on explaining that FIL was very sick so that they would be a bit more prepared, however he sadly had a massive stroke after his first chemo session and passed away a couple of weeks later so I didn't get to prepare my children for it. I agree that Macmillan and possibly winstons wish would be helpful in giving you ideas on how to handle it with the DC.

Sorry you are having to go through this.

QuoteMeYouFuckers Wed 23-Nov-16 14:07:01

When they're told everything is alright... sorry blush

ohgoodlordthatsmoist Wed 23-Nov-16 14:10:44

I'm so sorry for your news.
My darling daddy was diagnosed with bile duct cancer (I think this is related to pancreatic cancer) and it was too advanced to treat, he was only ill for about 6 weeks in total and passed away about 2weeks after official diagnosis. In hindsight I think the fact he didn't have to live with it for long was a good thing (obviously i wish he never had it at all).
It might be worth seeing if the hospital can do a medical transfer for you.
Macmillan are also very helpful.


IHaveAToiletBrush Wed 23-Nov-16 14:31:02

Hi, I lost my wonderful mum to pancreatic cancer it will be 3 years next month. At diagnosis she was given 6 months to live it had already spread to the liver at this point. She was very ill and hospital deemed chemo as pointless as her tummy had started to fill up with fluid which is a sign the liver was failing (she looked 9 months pregnant with twins). Unfortunately she died 3 weeks after diagnosis.

My dc were 1, 4 and 7 at the time, we were very close to my mum we lived on the same street and we saw her everyday. The younger 2 were not really aware how ill she was I think they were just to young to process it, my 7 year was very aware and she coped very well. We cared for mum at home and dd was involved as much as she wanted to be and sat with mum every day after school and helped me with things like brushing mums hair etc. She was at school when mum went, I think my mum knew it was coming as she said a special good buy to dd the night before which took everything she had to do as at this point she was sleeping 23hours out of 24. I don't know if I did the right thing letting dd be that involved but if I could get that time back again with mum I wouldn't change it, I selfishly think having dd there helped us all cope and come to turns with what was going on. Sorry if this makes no sense I am balling as I write this.

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