Thursday, February 2, 2012

To Denise

Many of you who knew Barbara Seufert, remember her vivacity and lust for life. Perhaps you were lucky enough to see her wearing her cocktail glass on a chain around her neck, filled with a Manhattan, I imagine.

If she managed to get the attention of room, or should I say when, she would often raise her glass and recite her favorite toast in Spanish:

Salud, dinero y amor, y el tiempo para gustar.
To health, money and love, and the time to enjoy it.

This blog is dedicated to this toast, which I say now as a prayer for us all. My mother, Denise Seufert-Green, is battling pancreatic cancer at 61 years old. But, she is not fighting alone. You are here. If you would like to voyage with us through this beautiful and mystical time, you are welcome.

I will be regularly updating this blog with news of Mom's treatment. Feel free to comment, ask questions or simply share your support. Mom and I will be listening. For those of you who are not yet familiar with the particulars of her current status, here is what we know today:

On 1/26/12, Mom was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer which has metastasized to her liver. She is otherwise a very healthy woman, which will open up our treatment options. There really is no way of knowing her final prognosis, so she is prepared to beat all the statistics, which otherwise seem quite bleak.

She has an adenocarcinoma, which is a protein based cancer that spreads quickly through the system, so we suspect she's only been sick for maybe 6 months at most. Our hope with treatment is that her cancer will respond and either suspend or decrease the growth of her cancer and her subsequent symptoms. Though she will not be able to get her treatment through SCCA, we can bring what we've learned from our meeting with one of their GI Oncologists to a treatment center closer to home (Woodside, CA). Her treatment will most likely involve the following:

Chemotherapy: Most likely a cocktail of the usual IV chemo for pancreatic cancer, Gemcitabine, through the port she had installed Friday, 2/3/12. The ingredients are still experimental, but there are studies that show one particular formula, Folfirinox, has been successful at doubling the life expectancy of its recipients.

Enzyme Replacement: Mom received a prescription for a special enzyme medication that will help mom digest fatty foods and eat more high caloric foods which will be important to keep her strength up through the chemo - so cheese is back on the menu! Phew.

Pain Management: She is currently happy with a small dose of pain medication, but as her need for higher coverage increases, which it may, they have a simple procedure to numb the area causing discomfort, thus reverting her strength to her healing.

Diet: Her nutrition is key and I know that many of you have already made contributions in this and thank you. We have a small handbook of good foods and bad foods, and when we find a place for mom to begin receiving her treatment we'll look for a specialty nutritionist as well.

Addressing Future Needs: It is possible that mom's kidney could get blocked up with bile causing her to be jaundiced. If this happens, there's a simple procedure to install a stent that will open up the passage and keep it open.

The Next Step:
Mom sent her medical records to UCSF yesterday and we expect to hear from them on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Once we agree on a particular chemo-cocktail (even if it isn't a vodka martini with three olives), Mom will begin chemo as soon as possible.

I know this is all so hard. But, we've been given more options and that's something to celebrate.
I'm sure you have a lot of questions and I'm happy to answer them. Please send them my way and not to mom. Please direct others to do the same.

As to her prognosis, there's only one answer: there's no way to know, but there's every reason to hope for the best. The one thing we know is that cancer has never met Denise before and it will never be the same having met her. Thank you for all of your love and support and believe me when I tell you that I will be calling when the need arises.


  1. Dear Denise,
    I am so terribly sorry to hear of your illness. I’m certain though, that you of all people will get through this. You are one of the strongest and most dynamic people I know. I have always wanted to tell you that.
    I am praying for a quick recovery for you. Get better and make my prayers come true.
    Love, Len

  2. Denise my beauty!!!

    You are by far the strongest person I know your way with healing not to many folks have. It is so apparent the love you feel for your friends by the FIRST HUG you give them. I will always hold that day close to my heart. You have healed me and my soul and for that I am forever grateful. You are always helping a person in need, now it is time for you to concentrate on Denise and her path to healing . Our prayers are with you. We are hear for whatever you need. Tom and I are so blessed to have you and JG be such a BIG part of our life. we love you our sweet friend. Did you know the name "Denise" means 'God of Wiine Mountian of Zues,
    We love you our friend .

  3. I forgot to sign my name to my post, not that it matters, but,

    1. When we put our trust or depend too much on people or worldly things, God shows us that we and worldly things are ultimately weak. We MUST depend on God. When we pray, we must choose to "fear not" and, instead be creating future memories of Denise's recovery. He asks us to enjoy and even delight in the "now", not if, when etc. It is not to minimize the trials we experience here on earth, because He does know our pain. But, it is for our benefit, it is the ONLY way He can "operate". It is through faith, we thank Him for the blessings of the past, present and future. Help us to hold tight to Jesus and surround Denise with His love through each and every one of us. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
      Love, Darla.
      PS Tip on anyone posting under anonymous, if reply to your own post, it will be deleted.

  4. I love you so much. You are so much more then an Aunt to me. You are kind, compassionate, and loving. You have supported me when the world was againist me. That meant so much to me, you have no idea. I have so many great memories in my childhood, and most of those memories, you were right there. You are NOT alone in this fight! I personally will move heaven and earth for you. And there are so many people in line with me. We got this...because God has our back!


  5. Dear Denise,
    I'm with you every day in my thoughts .... I know you are strong and God will help to get through this. I'm praying.
    Love U.

  6. Denise,

    I wish I was better with words. When I heard about your cancer my reaction was WTF what more can this family endure. We both know the answer. I am so thankful for the times I have been able to get to know you better. I have the image in my mind's eye of you rocking and holding Ella and her being so relaxed in your arms. I hope and pray your heart's desires are fulfilled. My heart is with you.

  7. Thank you to all of you who have spoken these beautiful words over my beautiful mother. I know blogging is new to many of you and you're figuring it out like champs. As you can see, if you don't have a google membership you'll need to sign your name in the comment since you're listed as anonymous.

    If you would like to get a google membership so we can see your name and sweet little face, it's super easy. Simply go to and click Sign In and then Sign Up. Fill out all the information fields and POOF! You will be anonymous no longer. Keep blogging!

  8. Denise,

    We love you and are here for you. I think about you every single day. We all know how strong you are. I hope you will lean on us when you need to. Happy Valentines Day my love.

    Love Sonya and Larry

  9. Good morning Denise. I just want you to know that you, John and all of your family have both Scott and my love and support. You are wonderful friends to us both even though we haven't seen you in years. But time and distance do not change our feelings for you or the wonderful times we have shared. You have a zeal for life and loving heart for everyone. I also believe you have strong faith in the Lord and He will carry you through this. Our prayers and thoughts will be with you all daily.

  10. Denise you know how much we love you and John. Happy Valentines Day my dear friend. You are by far the strongest women I know. You have a healing ability about you that I have never seen in any human being. You are in my prayers all the time and on my mind daily. You know we are all here for whatever you need. Your beautiful daughter will be here Thursday to walk every step with you. We are all there with you even though you cannot see us. I love you so very much.

  11. Denise, you're a fighter so don your boxing gloves and fight this one too! Kick it's ass! You are a very warm, optimistic individual so chin up through this process. Continue looking for the bright side and never, never, never give up! We are thinking of you and your family. Happy Valentine's Day to all of you! Palo Alto restaurant regulars.