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19 Apr

Covid 19 and Pancreatic Cancer
Good afternoon I am looking for advice. My mother has been diagnosed with stage 1 pancreatic cancer. They spotted the cancer due to doing scans for other health problems related to her gallbladder. She fell ill early January after experiencing severe pain. They then realized that she had an infection in her gallbladder and gallstones. She also has a pre-existing heart condition. They did scans and found a tumor that is still small on her pancreas. After admission to hospital she was also diagnosed with covid 19 and she was hospitalized for about a month. They have decided that the cancer should be treated with chemotherapy and also removal of the tumor via the whipple procedure. As it stands, she has been told that they cannot operate on the tumor yet, since her body has not yet healed from being so ill. They do however want to start chemo within the next 2 weeks. I am very concerned and unsure whether she is healthy enough for chemo. She currently can only walk a few steps, and is then completely exhausted. By the time the afternoon comes around, she can barely do anything due to severe exhaustion. Her breathing is very shallow. She also struggles to eat and when she does, she can barely keep the food down. She has tried Ensure, but it she can't keep it down. Since her body is so weak, I am worried that the chemo will do more harm than good currently. On the other hand, I am not a doctor and I am not sure how long she will be able to wait before starting treatment to ensure a good result. Or should she decide to not do any treatment, how long would she still live with the cancer. I realize that Pancreatic cancer is very deadly and at 1st we were very optimistic since they discovered it so early. But after seeing how she is already almost disabled, I am not sure what would be best. Thank you for taking the time to read my long message, I would really appreciate your opinion. She is now 60 years old. Kind regards M
Cancer expert

20 Apr

Dear M
Thank you for sharing this with everyone. It is really heart breaking to hear the cancer journey of your Mother. It is important to remember that every individual is unique. There is no "one size fits all" when it involves health and reaction to illness or treatment thereof. I would suggest that you visit the CANSA Website ( where you will find a Fact Sheet on Pancreatic Cancer which will provide you with some additional information of this disease. In addition, I would advise that you request your Mother's treating physician to refer your Mother to a Registered Nutritionist. They are specialised health professionals and trained in providing advice on nutrition and health. 
We have some of the best Oncologists and surgeons in the world and I am convinced that they will not commence with chemotherapy and/or surgery until they are convinced that your Mother is "strong" enough and that the envisaged treatment will outweigh any possible risk.
Lastly, please remember that it is everyone's right to request a second opinion. (MCH).
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.
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