It is amazing to me how life can change in a split second. Something happens, or you get a call, and you realize in that moment that your life will never be the same again...
My amazing, beautiful mother, Gina Langford Hardman, was diagnosed with Stage II Pancreatic Cancer (adenocarcinoma) on Thursday, January 12, 2017. She went to the doctor because she was experiencing jaundice, significant abdominal pain, nausea when eating, and other symptoms we were hoping were related to her gallbladder. A CT scan of her abdomen revealed a 2.5 cm malignant tumor on the head of her pancreas. Since then, she has undergone three ERCPs, which is an outpatient procedure used to insert a stent in the bile duct. Yes, she is on her third bile duct stent in less than three weeks. The one she has now is metal and seems to be working pretty well, thank God. She has had a very trying couple of weeks to say the least. We love food in our family, probably more than we should, and she hasn't been able to enjoy many meals over the last month. Can you imagine being hungry, but your body not allowing you to eat? And your favorite foods tasting off? Now imagine that going on for weeks. My poor momma has been such a trooper.
Despite how upsetting and life-changing this diagnosis has been and will be, we are so thankful this cancer was found at such an early stage, when treatment is still an option. Mom has an appointment with a surgeon tomorrow (1/23) to have more scans done and to learn more about the Whipple procedure, which she will hopefully have done very soon. This surgery is the most invasive surgery one can have. She will have the head of her pancreas removed along with the lymph nodes around it, the first part of her small intestine, her gallbladder, part of her bile duct and possibly part of her stomach. Her complete digestive system will be changed forever, and she will have a very long recovery. People who have been through this procedure call themselves the Whipple Warriors (http://www.whipplewarriors.org
), and they are such an awe-inspiring group of fighters who have been so helpful to me as I try to gather as much information and knowledge as I can, both to help my mom, and to help me cope and feel like I have some measure of control over this situation even though I have absolutely zero control.
it is unfortunate that it takes something so dire to wake you up to what is truly important in life. Everyday that we swing out of bed and put two feet on the ground, we have a choice on how we will spend that day. We all have such little time on this Earth. Make every single day count. Call your loved ones when they pop into your mind. Schedule the lunch or dinner with the friend you keep promising you'll get together with. Go on that vacation. Make memories. And most importantly, take time to thank God for all the blessings he has bestowed upon you, especially in those times when everything seems to be going right in your world.
I decided to set up this site so that everyone who loves my mom and our family can check in on what will be her greatest battle, and what we all hope will be the greatest victory, of her life.
I also set up this site as a way to hopefully make a difference, even if it's just with my family and friends. Pancreatic Cancer is the most under-funded of any other cancer, receiving just 3% of government funding, but yet it is the third biggest killer. The five-year survival rate rose all the way up to 9% this past year. NINE PERCENT. What is most upsetting about that number is not how low it is, but that the survival rate has not improved much in the last 40 years, unlike with every other cancer. So little is known about what really causes Pancreatic Cancer yet 1 in 67 will find themselves diagnosed with it. There are more infuriating statistics, but you get the point. Please visit the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network at Pancan.org to learn more about this terrible disease and to find out how you can get involved.