Welcome to Judes' CaringBridge website. Her kids - Amy, Matt and Rob - are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Here is what we know:
On Friday, November 11, our mother was taken by ambulance to St. Mary's Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, after complaining of severe stomach and back pain. If you know Judes, she masks her aches and pains pretty well - it must have been serious for her to take this step. And she had an inkling that something more was afoot: she had received test results earlier in the week that she had cancerous tumors on her liver. She was processing this terrible information and how to manage it when the intense pain came on.
Upon admittance to St. Mary's and a battery of tests and pokes and prods and consultations with the staff, it was determined that Mom has pancreatic cancer. It's an evil character - it comes on fast, and hides itself pretty well, often moving to other internal organs swiftly and with intensity. The prognosis was - and is not - good. It is Stage 4, meaning that is has spread to other organs, including the liver as was first diagnosed.
Additionally, in her weakened state, she has developed pneumonia as well as a blood clot on her lungs. This acute issue is what the fine team of doctors at St. Mary's is trying to rectify before any type of action is taken on the cancer - if she makes it through this difficult first phase. She is in good care, but eating, sleeping and other normal functions are wearing her down. She is mentally alert - feisty as a Gilkerson - but her strength is waning. Amy, Matt and I are here and taking turns spending the night with her, and she seems to take comfort in that. Her lifelong friend, Carrie Rohrer, has been with her every day at the hospital, driving back-and-forth from the Dells to be with her, and been handling all of the communications with so many people who have heard the news. Family friend and spiritual confidant Freddy Wingate even spent a few nights here, and mom was happy to have the company.
We aren't going to sugarcoat this; it's as bad as it sounds. Things are moving fast and we are talking days and weeks - hopefully months. She has not invited visitors because she wants and needs to believe that she will at least leave the hospital and possibly get to hospice. Getting her back to her home in the Dells is a remote possibility, and we are also looking at hospice care in Baraboo, and hoping we get the chance to make that decision. But first things first - getting her oxygen intake up and removing the fluid from her lungs.
So, for those of you reading this, pray. She would love to see everyone, but that's a little tough. Also, if you could pen a quick note, we will read them to her and pass the time sharing stories of Monticello, Winter Haven, Lake Delton, Dodge Camp, the Gardens and other special places in Judes' life. We're gearing up for the Packer game tonight.
Also, her brother Skip is with us. Matt picked him up from the mantle at my mom's house, and he has been helping us get through this. Amy and I were initially skeptical of this, but it has turned out pretty well - he joins us for dinner, listens to the doctors and enjoyed the Badger win yesterday (even over his Alma Mater of Purdue).
Thanks to all who have sent good thoughts and those who have dropped in. We will send more info when it becomes available; we are scheduled to receive an update on the pneumonia status from her team tomorrow.