The past three days were tough ones. Mom had a couple more
procedures done, and at this point we’re all learning as much about
pancreatic cancer as we can.
On May 29, Dr. Baker did a procedure called a percutaneous transhepatic
cholangiodrainage (PTCD) with biopsy.
He was able to insert a tube in the center of Mom’s abdomen that goes
through her liver, down the bile duct toward the pancreas. He
a drain so the bile that has been backing up the from the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas can drain to a bag outside
her body. He also took a biopsy of the tumor that sits at the
head of the pancreas.
afternoon, Dr. Allen explained that the tumor is about 3×4 cm
(medium-sized as he described it) and is located right at the head of
pancreas. The biopsy showed a mucin Adenocarcinoma tumor which
means that it probably
started in the pancreas.
This isn’t the news that any of us wanted to hear. It’s
hard to treat pancreatic tumors. The
tumor is encroaching on a major blood vessel (the superior mesenteric vein) making surgery very difficult.
Dr. Diggs, the oncologist talked to our whole
family on Monday morning. He said that there are two doctors at
the UW Hospital who may be able to do surgery to remove the tumor at this
point. He and Dr. Gibson, the surgeon, are going to send Mom’s
films to them this week to see what they think. If surgery is not
possible immediately, the primary
treatment will probably be radiation and chemotherapy with the hopes of shrinking the tumor to the point that it can
They may also need to do additional endoscopic surgery to implant an
internal stent so the bile can drain internally into the
intestine. They’ll also want to do laproscopic surgery to look
for other tumors in the abdeomon.
Dr. Gibson kept Mom in the hospital on Monday in case the UW doctors
would be able to transfer her directly to the UW on Tuesday.
However, this morning they said that they wouldn’t be able to see her
until later in the week, so after a mind-bending weekend, she’s back at
home as of mid-day on Tuesday. She has an appointment scheduled
on Friday morning with Dr. Webber at the UW. Hopefully, we’ll
know more after that, but who knows, it could be until next week before
they run the next set of tests (MRI, catscans, ultrasounds) that need
to be done.
It’s been a completely surreal set of days and I know we’re
all still trying to absorb information. The doctors have been
very helpful and informative, and I’m glad that Mom gets a chance to be
home for a while until we take next steps.
I have lots more details on treatment options, and I’m looking into
support systems for families struggling with cancer. I’m also
learning how to talk about this and internalize it to my life. I
know we all are.
So this isn’t a fun note to write, but I know that there’s an amazing
group of people out there who love Mom and who will be interested in
following her condition. If you have questions, please give me a
At this point, we’re glad that there are a variety of treatment options
available, and we’re moving forward with a hopeful attitude.