A CT scan found a tumour in my husbands pancreas in late December last year. It was small and looked operable. He had a distal pancreatectomy in January but when they opened him up he had localised peppering outside the pancreas. The surgeon removed all he could see which ended up half the pancreas, spleen, gall bladder and part of the duodenum removed. We were told even though so much had been removed it wasn't curable and the aim was to prolong life. Three weeks after the operation he started chemo in Gemzar/ Abraxane. He mainly had one good day a week which was the day after chemo because of the steroids. His routine was 3 weeks of weekly infusion then the fourth week off. He was really looking forward to getting to the end of the six months and wanted to take a break. However after four months the neurophy was starting to be a problem and at the end of the fifth month we discovered that his tumour marker that was going down had started going up. He started to have quite a lot of pain. This was checked by a CT scan and it looks like there could be a tumour regrowing in the pancreas and lesions on the liver. He was put in a pain regime that seemed to help.
He has been swapped to Folfiri and had his first infusion on Friday. He's had an awful weekend feeling dreadful even though he is in lots of pain and nausea meds. He also has painful constipation.
He is 64 and was an extremely fit and active man who had retired a few years ago. He played a really good standard of golf several times a week and had always been a sportsman. So he is really hating what his life has turned out to be. I know we need to try to slow down the cancer but the last six months have not been good and I wonder if he had just had pain medication when needed the last six months would have been much better.
Without chemo the Pancreatic Cancer would have spread more rapidly it is a very aggressive cancer ,some people respond better to chemo than others and unfortunately the side effects can be very debilitating it is a decision that individuals and families face regularly chemo versus,pain medication .I feel for your family and what your husband is going through.
Thanks for your reply Kj. Yes prolonged life needs to be weighed up against quality of life. We went to see the surgeon for a six monthly post op appointment this afternoon. He said not to give up yet that he had discussed this latest chemo regime with the oncologist and they thought Ian was strong enough to take it even though is is very harsh. He said hopefully Ian will have some good days during the cycle if not talk to the oncologist about altering the regime some. Ian is a little better today compared to the last few days he has been in bed. He is having trouble eating which doesn't help with his strength. So hopefully he'll start improving soon.
That is promising news that the chemo doses can be altered to suit Ian's health ,hopefully the side effects decrease as his treatments continue and you see an improvement ,it is very hard to have an appetite during chemo, I know from my own experience how important it is to have fluids at this time.
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.