A BEAST Called Pancreatic Cancer Took My Dad Away!

by Jodi S. Babcock
(East Northport, NY, US)


It has been 5 months, 4 weeks 4 hours, and 2 minutes since I held Dad's hand and watched as he took his final breath.

My dad was diagnosed with Stage III locally advanced pancreatic cancer in April 2009. Less than 7 months later, he was gone at 62 years old, without ever having had the opportunity to enjoy his retirement.

Surgery was not an option for my dad, and chemotherapy and dietary changes brought no positive changes. My dad was on hospice just 5 months after he was diagnosed.

Dad survived for 10 days without food or water while in a coma the entire time, fighting right up to the end, just as he said he would. Ironically, after 2 heart attacks, 3 stent placements, and a carotid artery that had an 80% blockage, the hospice nurse insisted that he hung on as long as he did because he had a strong heart!

I kept vigil for 2 weeks, and it was so emotionally exhausting. After a week, I just wanted him to let go. I wanted him to have peace, and I wanted my old life back. I missed my children, who had not had my attention for 7 months. Oh, how I regret that I wanted that now!

Dad went through many changes while in a coma, and there was a time when I thought he was actually improving. Beginning 2 days before he passed, his BP went very high; he suffered from extreme terminal agitation while in a coma, finally ending with what appeared to be a seizure. Dad's left foot and ankle became swollen (again) as well.

The day that my dad passed away, November 8, 2009, was different from all of the other days. His breathing pattern changed. He had been experiencing the Cheyne Stokes breathing for 2 weeks, but the breaths became further and further apart, and he just seemed to be fighting for every breath. Yet, he seemed peaceful. By noon, I knew Dad was going to die that day, and I didn't leave his side at all. I was obsessively monitoring his heart rate and BP every 30 minutes.

Around 3 pm, Dad's BP began to drop, and his pulse was very weak, sometimes not registering on the machine. He looked more and more peaceful as the day progressed, but when he breathed, his jaw did all of the work as his chest rose and fell.

This continued for 6 hours. At 8:45 pm, after my girls were in bed and asleep, I somehow felt that Dad was leaving us. Nothing had changed, but I felt it. I cannot explain how. At 8:50 pm, I crawled up beside my dad, I held his hand in mine, and laid my ear over his heart. When I said, 'I love you, Daddy', he tried to sit up and squeezed my hand very hard. And then....one final breath, followed by a movement of his jaw which I knew brought him no air.

I had told Dad it was ok to go so many times, but at that moment, I found myself begging my dad not to leave me. I begged him to please stay, but he didn't hear me. At 9:00 pm on November 8, 2009, Dad's heart stopped beating, and The Beast had won.

My brothers, my children, and other family members said goodbye, and then I sent my girls across the street to my friends/neighbors who were waiting. Hospice came shortly thereafter, and the funeral home took 2 hours to arrive. I cleaned Dad up and gave him a shave. I took off the ring he wanted me to have, and I propped his head and put a smile on his mouth. He was still warm....and then he wasn't. I stayed with Dad until his blood ran cold, remembering almost 36 years of my life.

When the funeral home came to take him away, I watched it all- every moment- until the van disappeared beyond my sight. I raced back inside of my home, and within 45 minutes, cleared his belongings from my sight, even putting all of the medical equipment into the garage. At 3 am, I finally slept for what seemed like forever.

For 7 months, I had detached myself emotionally so that I could handle the day-to-day tasks of caring for Dad. I told myself that I would deal with my emotions when he was gone. I thought that I was prepared for what I would feel when this time came, but I wasn't. I always knew that this disease would take my dad's life inevitably, but deep down, I subconsciously believed that I could save him. I wanted to save him, and despite my efforts, I couldn't.

I write this as a means of healing for myself; as a teaching of compassion for my children; as an acknowledgment of empathy for anyone who has lost a loved one to pancreatic cancer; and as a tribute to the first man I ever loved.

I miss you, Dad! I'm so sad, so lost, and so full of grief. If only life came with an eraser!

Comments for A BEAST Called Pancreatic Cancer Took My Dad Away!

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Jun 03, 2013
I MISS MY DAD
by: terry

my dad was told he had this thing feb 22 2013 we started treatment feb 25 my dad already had stage 4 so there were no options radiation and chemo both made my dad sick my dad fought hard for 3 months and a 1 week he didn't eat for 5wks my dad lost his battle with my ma holding his hand on june 1 2013. I miss my dad so much already. I pray they find a cure before this monster kills again. I LOVE YOU DAD r.i.p

May 14, 2013
God bless you:)
by: Nicole

Thanks for sharing your story, my dad my hero my everything was diagnosed with this monster stage 4 in February, He is only 53 years old and he's a wonderful man. He's extremely positive and I know it's only because he has Jesus in his heart. I believe god can heal my dad so I will continue to pray and have faith. Your dad is your guardian angel and will always be by your side and in your heart. Remember it says in the bible you will recognize your loved ones in heaven, image that:)

May 08, 2013
I lost My Father
by: Anonymous

I lost my father on May 04 2013 at 16:46. I still cannot completely recognize this is real. One month ago my father was a healthy, active 58yr old man. When we first discovered he had pancreatic cancer I was devastated, but I was determined to find an alternate route. Eventually we had discovered that the cancer had spread to his liver and lungs; later on it would spread to his esophagus. It seemed all the while that our main battle was to maintain his strength in order to introduce the next dose of chemo. He might of had three total regimens yet all seemed to have made him worse not better. My father was 215lbs before his diagnosis; the day he passed he was 146lbs. I had read other forums before about other peoples experiences with this. One post stated the stages of their relative's condition. The second to last stage was a crease in the amount of breaths per minute...or long gaps between each breath. On Saturday, May 04, I watched as my father had longer and loger gaps between each breath. Deep down I new his time was approaching. My father was aways a gregarious, honest, heartwarming and hardworking man. If anyone is reading this that is currently going through this extremely difficult time, please, spend as much time as possible with your loved one. My father always fought for what was right and I will do my best to carry on his legacy. I found PanCan.org online which raises funds and donates time for all of us and our family members. Every opportunity I have will be devoted to helping others and hopefully preventing others from going through what I have gone through.

Apr 04, 2013
Similar stories
by: Anonymous

Oh my goodness. My Dad died from the Beast on March 20. It is eerie how similar our stories are. I am too upset to type anymore, but maybe at some point I will find the strength.

Jan 02, 2013
Living this now
by: Anonymous

My beloved father is right this moment suffering from this same Beast. He is 69.
Last year he underwent the Whipples Procedure, followed by Chemo and radiation therapy. He endured all that pain only to have his cancer resurface less than a year later.
Dad is refusing further treatment, except for pain relief. I sat with his all day yesterday, trying to make out his words that were blurred by morphine. In his arms lay my seven-week-old son. It's amazing how my usually very fussy baby will lie quietly and just stare into his grandfather's eyes.
I will forever be grateful that he got to meet my baby, but am hurt by the injustice that he will not see him sit up, crawl, walk, talk, grow. My baby would have adored my dad, he loves playing games with children.
This Beast is aggressive and fast. In less than three months my father has gone from being in remission to skeletal and terminal. I am commenting to vent my hurt and frustration. I don't want to lose my Daddy, I CAN NOT lose my Daddy. He may be ready, but I will never be. How am I supposed to go on and be a good mother when all I want to do is stay with my father, and follow him when the time comes?

Aug 24, 2012
Cancer Took My Dad
by: Anonymous

lost my father 20 years ago to one of the deadliest diseases of today when I was only 17. Cancer is spreading like wild fire on a daily basis. It’s also leaving the families in a black hole of hurt and anguish whether the person survives or not. Once you have gone through it with someone you are forever changed. To re-visit the tragedy that happened to my family and I, there is no one word to explain it. It took me a year, and I am ready to hopefully touch and help as many people as I can. Not by taking their pain away because that no one can ever do, but maybe just by pure relating. My Memoir is called Cancer Took My Dad. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital since my father loved his children, and dedicated his time and energy mentoring all our friends as well. E-mail me at CancerTookMyDad@Yahoo.Com if you are interested in a copy and I will send you the information to purchase the copyright version.

Sep 28, 2011
I know how you feel
by: Kath

My heart breaks to see you entry. I, too, lost my father to pancreatic cancer. I only had 17 days from diagnosis to his day of death.
This year has been very hard as I approach the 5th anniversary of Daddy's death. Actually I was in such denial that I didn't know the exact date.

Daddy's girls are special woman. We have been blessed with the best men on earth. We have shared a wonderful life with them. When our Daddies leave us there is a huge whole in our hearts. Many times it feels that nothing will fill this whole. Our grief can be debilitating. But there is hope.

For my father's funeral I chose the story of Laxarus to be read. I now use that story as comfort in this difficult time. My father believed in God and Jesus so he is not dead, he is with the Father and the Son.

Most nights I go outside and "talk" to my father - her's the evening star. This calms me and comforts me that I continue our conversations.

God Bless you. Continue to love your father - he was your blessing.

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