No one can ever truly imagine what it’s like to hear you have cancer  

Most of my extended family have had and survived, or have died from cancer.  Breast cancer, lung cancer, esophagus cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, liver cancer.  I was actually expecting breast cancer. That fact seemed woven into my life’s expectations. I was prepared to hear that news. I also assumed I would survive it.

I wasn’t expecting stage 4 metastasized pancreatic cancer. In my lymph nodes, lungs, liver and other parts unknown.

My first words were: You have just given me a death sentence.

And that is exactly how I felt. For those close to me, it was how they felt too.

Then I became so overwhelmed I could hardly comprehend the world around me. It was a blur. Phone calls. Medical tests. Phone calls.  Meetings with several different doctors. MRI, CT scan, PET, ultrasound, blood tests, x-rays, needles, phone calls. Endoscopy for a stint to be placed in a bile duct (I hate those words – they seem private, like bra. But also gross!) Biopsies. Bad news. Surgery to place a port. Phone calls.

And then pancreatitis

Pain, emergency room and hospitalization. I actually thought it was gas and waited over 12 hours to seek help. I waited overnight doing yoga to calm myself. When I walked into the e.r. I told them it was either gas or pancreatitis. I didn’t want to go to the emergency room for gas! I was so overwhelmed! Fortunately, they responded to the words: pancreatitis. They gave me pain meds and reprimanded me when I didn’t ask for more fast enough.

And they kept me in the hospital. But, at least for a couple of days the whirlwind stopped and I rested. I felt safe because someone else was in charge of my care and there was a fixable problem. But I didn’t really feel that good. Unfortunately, I’ve never felt fully well again. 

My whole life’s expectation changed in moments and that is the definition and sense of being overwhelmed.

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This is my blog about living my life with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer—End stage. I joked about writing this imaginary blog when I spent a year on a treatment that allowed me only 10 days to feel well enough to live a fairly normal life. (Actually normal doesn’t even really exist for me anymore!) To earn those good days, I spent the previous 10 days living in post-chemo treatment physical hell – that also became normal in a perverse way. I’m also writing to honor those who are diagnosed with Stage Four Pancreatic Cancer. You might live longer than you expect and I want you to have someone who tells you what that’s like. There aren’t many role models for people with this because, well, they’re usually gone. So, this is for you. Maybe your journey will be similar to mine. Actually, it will probably be very different because “everyone is different.” Even still, maybe this will still be a bit of a guide.

One thought on “Overwhelmed”

  1. Kathy, this is so eloquent and profound, and I wish you never had to be that profound in your life. It went straight to my heart. How can I read the past posts? Hugs, Sandy

    Liked by 1 person

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