Peggy’s Story

Site created on February 20, 2019

Recently while vacationing in Florida with dad, our mom fell ill with frequent nausea and vomiting, as well as looking very jaundiced. She was admitted to Sarasota Memorial Hospital. After several tests, it was discovered that mom has bile duct cancer. A GI surgical team in Sarasota placed 2 stents in the bile ducts which created instant relief from her symptoms, but the cancer remained. This is also referred to as Klatskin Tumor. Unfortunately while still in the hospital in Sarasota, mom developed a significant infection and pulmonary edema - prolonging her stay and keeping us away from our sick mother. Furthermore, mom's oxygen saturation remained puzzlingly low, fluctuating between 86-92%. So Oxygen therapy was initiated and that lead to inconsistent improvement. The doctors in Sarasota gave mom and dad very little hope, stating that a liver transplant may be her only chance to survive, and she may not even qualify for that.  Behind the scenes, mom's Cincinnati GI doctor (Dr Hess) coordinated an appointment with a renowned liver surgeon at UC - Dr Shimul Shah. Tim and Jason traveled to Sarasota to assist my dad in dealing with this tragedy, while also making arrangements for air medical transport home. On February 15, Tim arranged for a medical flight to get mom, dad, and Jason back to Cincinnati (Tim flew back earlier in the week). However, 30 minutes prior to departure from Sarasota, the medical aircraft developed mechanical problems. Ironically, just after hearing this, mom's oxygen saturation rebounded to over 95% - without oxygen therapy. No medical transport was needed, so the next commercial flight out of Sarasota was booked. They arrived home in Cincinnati at 12:30am on February 16, which was 10 days after being admitted to Sarasota Memorial Hospital. The kids and grandkids rallied around mom and dad for the weekend, waiting in anticipation for mom's appointment with Dr. Shah on February 20. But, in this roller coaster of a journey, mom fell ill with moderate swelling in her ankles and a very high WBC. She was admitted to Mercy West on Monday, February 18, but discharged on the 19th with some improvement, but attending the appointment with Dr Shah was deemed more important to Dr Hess than risking further infections in the hospital. On February 20, 2019 we met with Dr Shah for a long time. He was prepared, professional, aggressive, and confident. Dr Shah will be consulting with radiologists, but expects to perform a risky, but highly promising surgery to remove this tumor.  Mom is obviously depressed (but with moments of happiness and optimism), weak (still recovering from 3 different procedures with anesthesia within 8 days) and very tired (not sleeping well at all due to bathroom trips every 2 hours as a result of the Lasix from Sarasota). Our Christian faith has been our crutch in getting us through this. So many people have offered prayers and support. That's the main reason dad agreed to us using this page - to encourage more prayers for the sick. God bless you all who visit this page and can offer a prayer of thanks to our Lord for getting our mom to a great doctor, and for strength in the days ahead for all of those who deal with this terrible illness.

Newest Update

Journal entry by Chris Godfrey

Here's a brief update on the state of affairs surrounding our beloved Peg. The latest news is not great and rather difficult to stomach. But our incredible faith in God has reassured us that He's with us through good times and bad. Three weeks ago mom went into UC hospital for elevated bilirubin levels. This most likely meant a blockage in her bile ducts. After several painful procedures, including a 4 hour surgery to "roto rooter" her bile ducts, it was determined that the bile ducts are fine; rather, mom's liver is inflamed (thus the high bilirubin) from the immunotherapy treatments. Mom was hospitalized for 18 days and lost a lot of the progress she was making at home. She was sent home and prescribed steroids for the inflamed liver, and also paused immunotherapy. Over the past few days mom has grown extraordinarily weak with occasional confusion (but she can recite the food menu options at UC with ease...she's had all of them). A planned trip today to UC for outpatient labs revealed a dangerously high ammonia level in mom. After consulting with her team at OSU, they prescribed medication to stabilize the ammonia levels and also suggested that mom seek some additional medical aid. This evening, mom was transferred to Twin Towers in the hospice unit to get some around-the-clock care. While this is an inpatient hospice unit, it is expected that mom will not be there for the long haul. This hospice option was news to our family, and it seems like a good fit. Mom and dad have accepted that the current state of affairs are not great. The current plan is to continue addressing the ammonia problem, hope for improvement, and then get mom home. Where it goes from there is up to the Lord, and we are confident in His plan. Mom has threatened several lashings if we send her back to the hospital for any more needles, drain tubes, or bad meals. On behalf of the family, I thank you for your messages, cards and prayers for mom and dad.
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