Pancreatic Cancer

My family never knew that pancreatic cancer was such a deadly disease that can creep up on you, until my aunt, Cathy L. Usey, was diagnosed with it in Aug. 2008. My aunt Cathy better known as Big Mama was a 13 year breast cancer survivor when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I know you’re probably thinking the same thing my family was thinking “how could someone who had already survived a cancer be diagnosed with another cancer and a very deadly cancer at that. ” Big Mama was the backbone of our family, the life of the party, a giving as well as a very forgiving person no matter the circumstances.

I could go on and on about this lovely lady we called Big Mama. She was a daughter, a mother of two sons, a stepmother, grandmother, a wife, a sister, an aunt, a best friend to many, a manager of employees who absolutely adored her. Anyone who crossed her path she greeted them with a smile and ALWAYS treated others with such respect & would give her shirt off her back to a stranger if they asked her for it. Unfortunately Cathy passed on May 17, 2009, but she didn’t go without a fight, and we know she is watching us and guiding us to make a difference toward finding a cure for this horrific disease.

Big Mama touched so many lives and it’s so hurtful that a disease like pancreatic cancer took this beautiful lady from us. It’s also hurtful that there is not that much research on pancreatic cancer as there is for other cancers. Cancer falls at #6 on the list of government funded research diseases, but it should be #1 due to how many lives it affects every second. Pancreatic Cancer Brief When someone is diagnosed with a severe illness such as pancreatic cancer, individuals become aware of the limits of their existence in terms of life years. For many, cancer is just another word for death especially those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer makes up 4% of all cancer deaths and has the lowest five year survival rate of all cancers. The overall prognosis for Pancreatic Cancer is very poor with the one year survival rate being approximately 20%. It is usually know as an almost incurable disease (Wakeman et al). Pancreatic cancer begins when abnormal cells grow out of control within the pancreas. All but 5% of pancreatic cancers are categorized as exocrine tumors. Exocrine tumors begin in exocrine cells that produce enzymes to aid in digestion. Most symptoms of pancreatic cancer usually are not present in early stages, hence the name “silent” disease.

Usually by the time the symptoms become noticeable the cancer has reached an advanced stage. Some symptoms that are commonly associated with pancreatic cancer are: jaundice, pain in the upper abdomen or mid back, digestive difficulties, unexplained weight loss, change in stools, blood clots, etc. The only way to identify the exact diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is to do a biopsy on the tumor. Most patients with a positive diagnosis of pancreatic cancer are usually not candidates for surgery to remove the tumor; only about 15-20% patients are candidates.

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are traditional methods used to treat the cancer cells from growing and dividing. However, there are a lot of side effects associated with chemo and radiation, and typically these treatments do not cure the disease but prolong life for the patient (PALS 2009). Cancer & the people it affects Cancer is an illness that affects the whole entire family. Three out of four families are affected by cancer and it has been predicted that about 30% of the US population will have cancer at some point in their lives (American Cancer Society).

Counselors may be called upon not only to help the patient, but to help the entire family cope. Although there have been great strides in biomedical cancer research we have only come to the threshold of understanding cancers impact on families (Veach & Nicholas 1998). Once the diagnosis of cancer is confirmed the patient and family members will enter into a stage known as the “existential plight of cancer”. The existential plight takes place during the first 100 days after diagnosis and the uncertainty of what the diagnosis entails (Weisman & Worden 1976).

Weisman and Worden interviewed 120 newly diagnosed patients about coping strategies, problem resolution exposure, and total mood disturbance. They found that few patients change their overall lifestyle due to the diagnosis of cancer. However, they also found that disabilities resulting from the disease may cause patients to leave their jobs and change roles within the family structure (Weisman & Worden 1976). Types of changes dealing with things such as job and role status, can disrupt the family system, and cause the entire family unit to adjust to new roles and demands (Veach & Nicholas 1998).

It is important that a counselor seeks deep perception of the situation from each family member involved and their specific stressors they face. Not all family members will react to the illness and stress that comes along with it in the same way. When dealing with grief and the grieving process, individual family members operate on their own agenda. Some members of the family may display excessive anger concerning the crisis, coupled with deep regret (Veach & Nicholas 1998). Families often feel hopeless and powerless when faced with the diagnosis of cancer.

By including the family in the decision-making processes, their sense of control is established. Counselors can help to lighten feelings of powerlessness by offering activities that give the family a sense of involvement in the treatment of cancer (Veach & Nicholas 1998). Children of Parents Diagnosed with Cancer A great deal of cancer patients are parents of young children and adolescents. A lot of times young adults/adolescents have difficulty comprehending their parent’s diagnosis and develop high levels of anxiety and stress.

In general adolescents are emotionally involved with the parent who has cancer, and the illness brings them additional responsibilities. Their emotional adjustment is affected by the ill parent’s anxiety. Typically children of cancer patients have significantly higher levels of stress and anxiety when compared with their school peers (Danmore-Petingola et al. 2002). A child of a cancer patient usually keeps all their emotions about the situation they are experiencing bottled up inside and avoid expressing their feelings. This avoidance of revealing their emotions can lead to high levels of anxiety.

Listening by peers has demonstrated to provide an effective first step in responding to adolescents experiencing life changes. Stevenson (1990) found that adolescents need the leadership of a responsible adult to help with this peer support (Danmore-Petingola et al. 2002).

However, not all guidance counselors, teachers, or responsible adult figures that adolescents may turn to talk in regards to their situation at home are not emotionally or educationally trained to respond to the adolescents in a helpful way. In the study, conducted by Danmore-Petingola et al. in 2002, called “Hear How I Feel” a video was played for students, teachers, and guidance counselors.

The video gave insight on information about adolescents dealing with emotional stress at home due to a sick parent and how and whom students should seek to talk to about their anxiety they are experiencing at home. Most of the teachers and guidance counselors said that they were not fully trained or equipped with the resources to deal with a situation like a student suffering from high anxiety due to a parent with cancer.

Most of the students said that they would use the resources their school offered when dealing with a sick parent at home and talk with a teacher or guidance counselor.

A major aspect of training is identifying and gaining access to resources for the adolescent population (Danmore-Petingola et al. 2002). Many times the teachers doesn’t actually know if a student of theirs is going through a difficult time dealing with their parent’s diagnosis; or may not be aware that a student’s parent was diagnosed with cancer period. Students and teachers should have the opportunities to be aware of, gain access to, and receive psychological support from social workers and psychologists employed by boards of education and community cancer agencies.

Hopefully the education setting will be an environment in which students experiencing difficult circumstances will be free to meet with teachers to resolve learning difficulties, receive validation of their feelings, and be encouraged to express them (Danmore-Petingola et al. 2002). Others Affected By Cancer besides Immediate Family Members As discussed in the paragraph above, cancer places a tremendous strain not only on the patient, but also on the family associated with patient. The lives of the family are shattered, reconstructed, and changed forever by the diagnosis.

When a person is diagnosed with cancer, those within the patient’s immediate family will often substitute their needs to accommodate the needs of the patient. In return the family member will feel very appreciative as the support giver giving and receiving sympathy and emotional support to the patient (Case 2006). The question however remains as to how far reaching the impact of cancer is within the realm of the patient’s social network. The most immediate impact is on the family: changing gender roles within the family structure, finances can be challenged, and the patient can become dependent financially and physically upon everyone involved, and also increases the stress level for them as well (Case 2006).

However, when the support giver is farther removed from the inner circle of support, i. e. coworker or close friend, the level of emotional support may diminish (Case 2006). Coworkers of a patient with cancer are presented with stress on many levels whether it be picking up the coworker’s slack when the he/she is absent due to treatment or even doing ALL of the work of their sick coworker.

Coworkers will experience stress, but many will also experience guilt if they get angry about the increase workload, and are likely not to have a support system to help them cope with these new demands, not to mention the stress of having a friend face a serious illness (Case 2006). Being a close relative or friend of someone that is diagnosed with a chronic illness such as cancer, typically is a negative situation no matter what the outcome may be. However, it can bring about one positive aspect, which is it may influence the relatives and friends of the patient to have routine checkups and screenings. Stress, Fear, Goals of Cancer Patientsю

All cancer patients are face with threatened life goals and the task of setting new important goals concerned with treatment and illness (Street 2003). Goals are usually motivated by a pursuit of happiness. Attitudes and social norms have been identified as the two main analysts of intention and subsequent goal pursuit (planned behavior) (Ajzen 1993). Pancreatic cancer is not just a chronic illness, but also can be seen as a type of disability for the patient because it limits patients from eating certain foods or doing certain activities. Chemotherapy and radiation may cause a patients hair to fall out and may affect a patient’s appetite.

Cancer patients may feel uneasy when they first enter to the public eye after treatments and may feel like everyone is staring at them because of their hair loss or dramatic weight loss. It is proposed that cancer patients may not only set important health and life goals to gain personal well-being, but may also be pursuing the acceptance of others (Street 2003).

Conclusion: When dealing with any type of chronic illness such as cancer, high levels of stress and anxiety are not limited to the patient but affect the whole family and its inner circle of friends and coworkers.

Cancer of the pancreas is the fifth most common cause of death in both men and women. Pancreatic cancer affects approximately 33,730 Americans each year. The pancreas is a gland found behind the stomach that is shaped a little like …

The Pancreatic Cancer is a malignant tumour lying within the pancretic gland. Stated simply, the development of the cancer is attributed to cancerous cells forming in the tissues of the pancreas. It is uncommon for patients of pancreatic cancer to …

Cancer of the pancreas is the fifth most common cause of death in both men and women. Pancreatic cancer affects approximately 33,730 Americans each year. The pancreas is a gland found behind the stomach that is shaped a little like …

Pancreatic cancer is a malignant neoplasm originating from transformed cells arising in tissues forming the pancreas. The most common type of pancreatic cancer, accounting for 95% of these tumors, is adenocarcinoma (tumors exhibiting glandular architecture on light microscopy) arising within …

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