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Since December 2009, my dad has been through non small cell lung cancer, and stage 4 pancreatobiliary adenocarcinoma-- pancreatic cancer. As a caregiver and son, we were together throughout the entire thing. On the morning of June 9, one year almost to the day since his last diagnosis, dad died at home while we held hands. It's quite a letdown after going so far, and a horrible feeling to know there's nothing we could do to stop it. He was a great, great human being, a wonderful father and friend. I love and miss you dad.

Thank you to whatnext.com contributors, who shared their experiences and answered questions based on their experience. This was very helpful throughout the past year.

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Cancer loses. Love wins.

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This is from a slide show from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network archives that shows the overall survival with the two first line chemotherapies for a stage 4 pancreatic adenocarcinoma. It illustrates how grim the statistics they give you are when you are diagnosed. Gemcitabine, also known as Gemzar, has been used since the 1990's. FOLFIRINOX is the newer combination that can be more brutal on the body. They tend to not give this to people with other health issues. My dad had the gemcitabine monotherapy-- chemo with no other combinations of drugs outside of the nausea meds and steroid. It's incredibly frustrating to look at a chart like this and know that these are the two best chemotherapies at the moment.

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This is a handful of the patient education literature available for free in 2012. If your cancer center does not have patient education resources available, make use of the great resources searchable on the internet. One resource with many publications on different types of cancer is the National Cancer Institute www.cancer.gov They also put their publications on the internet for free.

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Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month: November.........
Eugene Thurman Upshaw, Jr-- Uptown Gene Upshaw....
American football player for the Oakland Raiders, Director of the NFL Players' Association...... Pancreatic cancer, 2008.........
http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=3545830 Gene Upshaw's situation illustrates that pancreatic cancer is often not detected until it's already in the later stages. He died just a few days after his diagnosis. One of the goals of researchers is to find ways to detect pancreatic cancer earlier......
http://www.pancan.org/section_facing_pancreatic_cancer/learn_about_pan_cancer/diagnosis/early_detection.php

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Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month: November.........
Donna Reed, actor from the Christmas movie that plays on television every year around this time-- It's A Wonderful Life....
Pancreatic cancer, 1986

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You are amazing. Take a look around. This place is awesome. You are a unique part of something wonderful, and you always will be. You're bigger than just the cells of your body, or anything that could happen to them. Your body started with one single tiny fertilized cell inside your mother, and now you have trillions of cells, hundreds of different types, with their own little life cycles, doing the dance of life. You have enough blood vessels to stretch around the earth twice. Yet none of the smallest parts of you even touch each other. If life doesn't give you goosebumps even on the worst days, you're looking in the wrong places. Best wishes to everyone for positive changes to come your way.

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Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month: November: ......... Steve Jobs, Apple Computers, pancreatic cancer (NET), 2011 at age 56........ It appears that he was diagnosed in 2003, and died in 2011.
Steve Jobs had a more rare form of islet cell neuroendocrine tumors, or NETs. It's really a different disease, with better long term chances for survival. Most pancreatic cancers are adenocarcinomas like my dad's...........

video from Stanford University youtube channel

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Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month: November.......
Patrick Swayze, actor, dancer, pancreatic cancer 2009 at age 57............
(photo by Alan Light) .............
Patrick Swayze's wife Lisa is a spokesperson for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in 2012
http://www.pancan.org/section_about/national_spokesperson/index.php

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November- Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month........
Dr. Sally Ride, first U.S. woman astronaut in orbit......
pancreatic cancer, July 2012

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I won't judge anyone for doing what they enjoy, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone. I'm all for freedom. I just wanted to share that my dad was a smoker of cigarettes since he was a teenager until several years ago when he could no longer both breathe and smoke. At that point, it was an easy choice-- stop smoking or die. I remember him trying to quit many times over the years, toothpick clenched in his teeth, and eyes bulging, angered easily. It's tough. Mom finally made him go outside to smoke. Now he's no longer a smoker. I still remember clearly when he had so much difficulty breathing he finally decided to go back to the doctor to see what was wrong, and an x-ray showed a spot on his lung that later turned out to be lung cancer. He landed in the hospital with pneumonia not long after.

This picture is a collection of pictures from around the internet to illustrate what my dad's respiratory management involves now. Everyone has to die sometime, and life is short. There's no guarantee that if you don't smoke, you're not going to get sick, or that you won't get hit by a bus. I just wanted to put it out there for you to consider when you make an informed decision about smoking, especially if you're young and haven't started yet. It is not fun not being able to breathe or do the things you used to enjoy as well as you once did. It's also not fun watching your dad go through COPD, and lung cancer, having part of his lung cut out. He gets winded and loses his energy quickly. He developed a heart problem from his lung surgery, that's managed with medication. Smoking may also be a risk factor for his second cancer, pancreatic cancer. His mom and sister died of lung cancer.

In the left corner is Advair, an inhaled steroid and bronchodilator that he uses at night. Below that is the big green backup oxygen tank. That's used if the power goes out. The second picture on top left is an oxygen concentrator that delivers oxygen through a long plastic hose and nasal cannula, just like when you're in the hospital. The machine on top of that is an oxygen cylinder refiller that fills the small portable oxygen tanks. Below that is the small tank and carrying bag like dad takes with him when we go out. Sometimes he does well without it. On the top right is the medication that goes into a nebulizer-- ipratropium bromide and albuterol sulfate inhalation solution. That comes in little pre-measured plastic tubes similar to the ones you may have seen with eye rewetting drops. You just twist off the top and add it to the nebulizer. Below that is the nebulizer machine. It just vaporizes the solution so he can inhale it. On the bottom right is Ventolin (albuterol), a bronchodilator in a rescue inhaler that can be used when we go out in case he has difficulty breathing. The machines and tanks are rented. We are lucky to have them because they make life a lot easier. I clean the nebulizer every day, clean the filter on the concentrator, and replace the hoses and nasal cannula on a schedule. I clean the nasal cannula daily. Every couple trips out, I refill the small tank with that great machine, and we're set for the next time. The concentrator sounds like a combination of an old refrigerator and Darth Vader.

This equipment is not related to his pancreatic cancer.

In the U.S., there are all kinds of resources to help you quit smoking if that's something you decide you want to do.
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/tobacco/smoking
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Tobacco/fs10_23.pdf
http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/guidetoquittingsmoking/guide-to-quitting-smoking-toc

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I am grateful for nature.

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