From the time the symptoms show to the time that you realize it's pancreatic cancer and one usually succumbs is very, very quick. Here are some of the real acute symptoms that we noticed and the timeline of when we noticed them in comparison to my mom's death:
September 2009: Mom had just returned from an India trip. Apparently during the couple of months she was there she had a few stomache aches and bowel issues, but assumed that it was nothing because when traveling around a tropical country one tends to have such issues, so she shrugged it off. Allegedly she had a blood test sometime during her stay there, and it revealed pancreatic enzymes that were slightly off.
A week after her return from India, September 2009: Mom had chest pains. Went to the hospital ER
They did some kind of a scan (assuming it was a CT) and the ER docs told her that she should get further tests done because there was some mass around her pancreas. Unless my parents were downplaying the situation to spare us, nobody had a real sense of urgency at this point relating to the visible mass.
Mom went home the next morning, said it was not a heart attack and assumed it was indigestion
Two days later: Mom went back to the ER for severe flu-like symptoms. Mom was the last person to really go to a doctor, but due to the swine flu scare and my dad's insistence, she went to the hospital again.
Was in the hopsital for a few days, was given Tamiflu.
From around this point onwards, absolutely no interest in food. We all assumed it was a side-effect of the tamiflu.
Two weeks later, still no appetite. Dad forced her to get an endoscopy. Turns out she had a yeast infection internally. Antibiotics helped with this; her breath started to smell funny but the antibiotics handled it. During this time of the endoscopy, they also took further tests to reveal what it was, etc.
Concise summary here. Gave all the details bc I know when I was searching for info on this I couldn't possibly have read enough.
-Blood tests revealing enzyme levels a bit off (first symptom)
-Bowel irregularities while on trip
-Chest Pains for a day or two
we had 10 weeks exactly from the date of diagnosis till her death. For the first week, she was tired but able to go around to the different hospitals and meet with the doctors, etc.
Second week, started to get real pains on one side of her stomach, had to sleep in a funny seated way with a pillow held against it to gain some releif.
Third week, started to do worse. Could make conversation for about a half hour at the most, losing interest in a lot of things.
Fourth week onwards, spent about 95% of her time in hospitals. She went in and out of a local hospital a couple of times when she started developing the ascites. By week 6, she checked into the hospital at Penn. Went through a variety of procedures including a feeding tube. Unable to really sustain a conversation, and even when awake was rarely "there." Maybe a few sentences a day when she was really with us.
I don't want to ramble and fear that I already have, but we have just gone through this and I remember how much I wanted to be able to talk to somebody who had been through it and who knew more. The nurses were wonderful, but not having been in the same shoes they could only tell us so much. Plus, they had to remain balanced between professionalism and pragmatism. I can only answer questions about our own experience, but if that would be helpful to anybody or if you need to talk to somebody about what you're going through, feel free to email me. It breaks my heart whenever I hear that somebody else is facing this.