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Suzanne’s Story

Suzanne Bianchi, our lovely mom and wife, passed away on November 4, 2013. In July 2014, after 61 wonderful healthy years, she was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer- not the Apple Executives kind but the more common kind- pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (which had spread). We created this Caring Bridge site to keep friends and family updated. We've appreciated your support and words of hope and encouragement during this time when it matters most.

It was with great sadness that my mom and our family learned that she has metastatic pancreatic cancer. On July 8, 2013. her diagnosis was confirmed including that her cancer had already spread- at least to her liver and probably her lungs. But even though we would wish this news very different, we also are reminded of how much we love our mom and wife.

For more information on pancreatic cancer, check out this presentation from the Simms/Mann UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology (first 30 minutes are most relevant): http://vimeo.com/53980498

How we found out:

 As surgery was not an option for such cases, she started chemotherapy (abraxane and gemcitabine) on August 14, 2013. 

Our mother had been having stomach pain that started in early May 2013. There are many causes of stomach pain so she did not think much of it. She and my dad had a great trip to England and Italy in May 2013. They spent their anniversary hiking in Cinque Terre and saw our Bianchi relatives in Arezzo. They then came to Princeton for my graduation with a Master in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School.

Upon their return to LA, my parents consulted a doctor since the stomach pain had not subsided. We had thought that maybe she had gallstones, but an ultrasound revealed masses around the pancreas. A biopsy through an endoscopic ultrasound that took a fine needle aspirate unfortunately revealed cancerous cells. 

Pancreatic cancer develops very slowly. It usually takes about 9 years before patients become symptomatic. This is also what makes pancreatic cancer such a bad cancer; they usually do not catch it until it has already spread. It thus did not matter that my mother waited about 6 weeks before seeing someone and instead spent it living well with my dad, eating pasta and gazing at the Mediterranean. The oncologist said her cancer would not have looked different if she had come in right away.

The oncologist said that the goal is that our mom live as long and as well as possible. Here's to that goal!- we said. But then, she only lived for 4 more months. I would say she lived it well, in spite of the toll the disease took on her body which she uncomplainingly endured. She spent four precious months surrounded by her family with many visits from dear friends. We only wish it could have been longer as she did and of course, healthier, but we are grateful we got that time together which not everyone gets. 

We really appreciated everyone’s interest and wanting to stay abreast of her condition. Feel free to email, text, and call us. We might be slower than usual about getting back to you, but it really helps!

Suzanne     bianchi *AT* ucla.edu                             202-271-4524 
Mark             msjjjbrowning *AT* gmail.com             202-907-9617
Jen               jennie.browning *AT* gmail.com          202-906-9400
James          jamesbrowning86 *AT* gmail.com      202-907-9616
Josh             jonbrowning1990 *AT* gmail.com       202-487-7473