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.