Rob Haworth

First post: Oct 13, 2022 Latest post: Nov 11, 2022
Welcome to the CaringBridge site for friends and family of Rob Haworth. We are using it to keep everyone updated about his journey with pancreatic cancer. Thank you for visiting. Here is Rob's story, written by his daughter, Rachel...

In late July, my dad started having stomach pain radiating to his back, which only bothered him at night and he was consulting with his doctor about it. The first week of August we all enjoyed a week of family fun when my brother Robin and his family came to Madison from PA (my brother David and his family live here in town). Only our Hannah missed out on the fun, having started her first teaching job down in Athens, GA (which is why she's missing from the above family photo). In the days and weeks afterwards, his pain worsened until, on August 22nd, he went to the ER. With everything we've journeyed through in the last couple of months, this night remains the most gut-wrenching for me, as we expected to hear something like, "it's gallstones," but instead heard the ER doctor say, reluctantly, after many tests, "I'd be surprised if this isn't pancreatic cancer."

After the news was confirmed by biopsy a couple of days later, we rallied. We had a meeting with our stellar team of doctors at the UW Hospital and found out that my dad was on the luckier side of things. His tumor appeared to be surgical, which we were told is only true for 20-25% of people with pancreatic cancer. The plan was to do 4-6 months of chemotherapy, hopefully shrink the tumor, or at least keep the cancer from spreading, and then do the surgery, which would give him the best chance at extended life. They never talk about curing pancreatic cancer, but we did have hope for a couple more good years at least. Other than the cancer, my dad was strong at this point, eating healthy and staying very active, with weekly rounds of golf, pickle ball (he and my mom would regularly beat Matt and me!) and even soccer with his buddies at UBay fields. 

Not far into September was when things started to not go according to plan. My dad has been in the hospital every day since September 8th (with one brief discharge on the 17th, only to find himself back in the ER and admitted again on the 18th). I will spare you all the complicated twists and turns of the past month, but will try to summarize the current challenges:

1) The tumor on the pancreas is blocking the bile duct from the liver and gall bladder. He has had 5 endoscopy procedures to place and replace stents to hold the duct open, with the last one (on September 26th) resulting in 3 stents being put in. There have been many complications with keeping the bile flowing properly, including sad tales of failed external drains and hematomas and infections and such. The current status is that the triple stents are somewhat, but not perfectly, doing their job of keeping the bile flowing.

2) Somewhere around the end of September, my dad's kidneys stopped functioning properly. There was hope that they would recover, but he was finally put on dialysis on October 6th. He has had several rounds, which have done their job, but have also been a bit rough to endure.

3) Eating and drinking enough has been a real challenge. The result of this, plus the above issues, has caused my dad's whole digestive system to all but stop completely. He spent a couple of days with an NG tube inserted through his nose into his belly to relieve pain and gas build-up, and since taking it out those issues are starting to resurface. 

So here we are! The talks have turned to palliative care in the last few days. My brother Robin flew into town on Tuesday (Oct 11th), and we are right in the middle of big decisions about how to move forward. We would love to get my dad home from the hospital, so that more family and friends can see him in the coming days, but we're not sure what is going to be possible - there are multiple hurdles to overcome.

I will stop the story there for now, but hear this...we are confident of God's goodness in all of this! We are experiencing it daily through the loving community of family and friends around us - the encouragement, well wishes, prayers, and offers to help with whatever is needed. My dad knows he is headed into a perfect and pain-free life with Jesus for all eternity, so he is ok with his time on this earth coming to an end. He seems ready to say his goodbyes. 

More updates to come. With love and gratitude,


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