My Mom

by Audra

My mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October 2007. Her oncologist said they caught it early and she was an excellent candidate for treatment, with a good chance of having 5 quality years left. She was 55 years old. They made us very hopeful.

She had surgery to remove part of her pancreas. It was very major surgery and she was in the ICU for a few days and then remained in the hospital for another few days. She had a difficult recovery; in fact, never really did recover fully. We feel that her ICU and hospital stay somehow traumatized her, and her mind was never the same.

She continued on to have chemo, but required around the clock care by my dad and aunts because she wasn't able to walk the same, eat the same, or take care of her toileting needs the same. I feel like I lost her after her surgery. Yet I remained hopeful that she would recover and be my mom again. So I didn't spend as much time with her as I should have.

It was difficult to talk to her because her mind was so different and she had a hard time communicating and understanding. I kept thinking that once she got better we would have our long talks and laughs again.

In January 2009, her behavior became even more erratic and she was severely anxious. We thought she was having a panic attack so we brought her to the emergency room. She remained in the hospital for a week, where we learned that the cancer had spread. She stopped responding to us and required constant sedation to remain calm. All her previous CAT scans had been negative so we were completely shocked. She stopped taking fluids so we were told that she had a couple weeks left.

We brought my mom home, where she passed away on January 30, 2009. I feel like her whole course of treatment was a waste. This wonderful woman, who always gave to others her whole life, had to go through such a horrible ordeal, only to have it end like that. I feel cheated, like our family never got to say good bye, never got to share our real feelings with her, since she stopped responding so suddenly. I feel so much guilt that I didn't spend more time with her when she was coherent. Or that I spent my whole life not fully appreciating her. I just wish she didn't have to go through that.

I know it's impossible but I just want to go back in time and take all of this away and let her live her remaining days with dignity, with her mind intact. It's just so unfair, because my mom was the most unselfish person in the world. She always thought of others before herself. And this is how she's repaid. Sometimes I feel like I'll never forgive myself for not taking care of her the way she always took care of us.

Thank you for listening.

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