Karen's Cancer Blog

Memorial
May 1, 2017

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In remembrance of your one year anniversary
by Neal
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Rest in peace
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RIP💙
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Rest in peace
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Rest in Peace. My prayers are with your family. 🕇
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RIP
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RIP so sorry
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Sorry for your loss, Rest in Peace
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So sorry for your loss, may he rest wi
by Valerie
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Remember only good times
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Rest.
by Wanda
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So very sorry.
by Deborah
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with love
by Neal
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Started his journey with his favorite song. Peace.
by John
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So sorry....
by Susan J
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Soar with the angels, mighty warrior
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I Come to the Garden Alone

Hi my friends.  It's with a heavy heart that I let you know my Dad passed away last Monday on May 1st at home. After all the visiting hours and funeral, I'm still having trouble believing he is gone.  I was at home with my Mom when he passed early in the morning at around 5:30.  I had woken up at 4:30 to sit with him and was alarmed at how his breathing had changed. He was almost gasping for breath and it was labored.  I told my Mom we should call Chrissy, my middle sister, who was about 15 minutes away and to text my Aunt Wanda but my Mom told me his breathing would get raspy and oftentimes there is like a "death rattle."  My mom went into the bedroom to rest and I waited until about 5 a.m. to send my Aunt a text message saying that my Dad's breathing was getting labored but not raspy or anything. I went back to playing hymns for my Dad on the iPad.  He hadn't been even able to talk for a few days.  The last time he had talked was on Saturday when we woke him up enough to brush his teeth.  He coughed up all of this terrible phlegm with a bit of blood in it and was so weak he just feel back asleep.  I don't even remember the last thing he said. I think despite the morphine, he could understand us a bit but couldn't speak at all; it reminded me of the "Diving Bell and the Butterfly" movie where the man has to blink after he has a massive stroke to communicate.  
Anyways, the worst part is that I played my Dad "There is a Redeemer" and then went to the bathroom really quickly and to call my hubby since he was going to the dentist very early.  I talked to him for 7 minutes and then I came back to my Dad and he was gone.  I felt so bad I hadn't been there. It was so heartbreaking, I felt like I had left my Dad to die alone. I ran in the bedroom to get my Mom and said "I think Dad's gone, hurry." And he was.  I just kept thinking my Dad was dying and I was on the f*cking cellphone. I made my Mom check at least 10 times to make sure he was gone. And as for the visiting hours and funeral.  They provided little closure since it was  a reminder of just how few people actually came to visit my Dad when he was at home for 2 months on his deathbed.  My sister, Lisa, said "Dad didn't realize how many friends he had."  I don't believe it though, friends come to visit you before you die and tell you they love and care for you, not after at your funeral.  It is too easy to come when someone is at their funeral and you do nothing to help them when they need it the most.  

So now I am in the "I wish" stage.  I wish I could go back and do everything differently, starting with urging my Dad to get an MRI 7 years ago so we could conquer this beast.  I wish I wasn't such a brat when I was little. I wish I could have taken my Dad to Montana to go fishing. I wish I was more patient with my Dad these last 2 years.  All I can do though is take these hard lessons I've learned in all of this and honor my Dad's strength and courage he's showed these last 2 years.  My parent's pastor said that my Dad had the most courage he'd ever seen anyone have in his 30 years of being a pastor.  He faced death in the most honorable way and 2 weeks ago he told me that he realized there was a God the first time he read about trees and he thought they were so beautiful and complex that there had to be a God.  

I want to say thank you to Susan J, John, and everyone here who has said an encouraging word to me and my family.  I would share some posts with my Dad from here and it always touched him so much.  Obviously, it really helped me along the way too.  I told my Dad I would never stop fighting for him.  Families do not deserve to be torn apart because of pancreatic cancer and I will do everything I can to help make a change for this disease.  And cancer awareness in general;  I think people need a guiding hand not just a doctor or an oncologist in this journey.  I hope I can make him proud still.  I chose this title because it was one of my Dad's favorite hymns, "In the Garden" and my cousin played it beautifully on the guitar at his funeral. 

His obituary is here:  http://vanmatres.com/2017/05/woolstrum-duane-phillip/ 

3 people sent you a prayer.
5 people sent you a hug.
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My condolences Karen. I will be thinking of you and your family this evening at prayer time and will pray for the pain in your hearts. In my faith, we do not pray for the deceased because they are now with God and no longer need prayer. But your Dad was covered in my Survivor's prayer every day. And he was a survivor for almost two years. Ca did not win; he did. Do not feel guilty about not being at his side at the moment he left; he was not alone. Everyone he ever knew and loved was with him to show him the way. I will always believe this. God bless.
John, Karen like this comment
That is a very beautiful song. There is a reason that things happen the way they do and when they do although we generally do not understand a lot of it. God Bless You and Yours.
Carol likes this comment
Karen, I haven't been on here since my dad died 7 months ago. Just typing that makes me cry. But for some reason when my email notification came through that you posted, in my busy day with 3 kids I decided to stop and read it in its entirety. I felt like I was reading my own story. Those last days are unforgettable. I would love to tell you they leave your mind but here I am 7 months later and I feel like I can remember every second. As much as those days hurt me I would give anything to be back in them because that would mean he wasn't gone. Please find me on Facebook as I never go on here. I'm here for you! I hope you are okay!
Carol, Karen like this comment
Jenna, sorry to hear about you losing your Dad as well as Karen. I was with my wife at the hospital for a week when my Mother-In-Law passed away after a stroke. You do remember every minute, but I also remember the very special things that happened too. As Marcia said, we will pray for you and your family. Karen, I'll send you a long-winded message, if you want to check there for more. We remember all who have 'fought the good fight' and who suffer no more. MGBY, John
Laura likes this comment
Hi Jenna, I am sorry you lost your Dad too. I just realized today that I will never get another hug from my Dad and started crying again. John is right, you have to set the timer for 15 minutes and cry. I don't know about you but I'm pretty good at keeping it together for the day...but then I come home and the missing starts.
I am also in turmoil because I always want to do something NOW to fight cancer. What can I do though? I have a French degree, a Speech-Language Pathology background and work in Marketing! LOL I want to be a researcher damnit! Like today! So I bumble around trying to give those that don't have a voice anymore a voice. I am thinking of you. I actually got off of Facebook about a month ago. It's been refreshing! And I have more personal interactions
Karen,
You're dad didn't die alone. He was with his Redeemer.
This letter, sharing your thoughts, is wonderful. It is SO normal to be mired in the "I wish" stage. But, you have done SO much to show your dad how much he meant to you. You WERE THERE!! I agree 100% with everything you shared...regarding helping when/where theyvneed it)

Anyway, hugs to you and to talk of your family. BTW, when breathing changes, even if you don't hear the "rattle" (fluids collecting.... Plus, the morphine helps to ease their breathing a LOT) death is imminent. In my experience.
Xoxo. Blessings
Carol
After a year, I too remember all the details of my mother's battle with pancreatic cancer and her passing. You are in such a battle mode of fight that each moment is etched into your memory. Do not let feelings of quilt of not being there for his last breath trouble you, as your presence throughout his fight along with supporting him during his last days showed how much you loved him.
I read your father's obituary and was pleased to see that a request for donations be made to pancreatic cancer action network. They are a wonderful organization that puts monies to work on real research. They were so helpful to me when my Mom was diagnosed. You are so right in that families need a guiding hand throughout cancer treatment and afterwards. It is a battle like no other.
Prayers to you and your family for comfort during your loss.
John likes this comment
Karen, you were there. You told your dad so many times that he was loved. The exact moment does not matter...he knew. And he will be proud of you as you go forward. HUGS
Karen, I've read this post several times over the past two days - and I simply can't think about anything else. It's been such a privilege to share our journeys with this monstrous disease, and - as ever - I find myself wondering how I got so lucky that my man is still here after more than seven years while your Dad and so many others have succumbed. I am so sad for you and your family, and wish there was some way I could make you feel better about stepping away from your Dad for a few minutes at the end. Think of it this way: perhaps he was shielding you, and waited until your Mom and you were both out of the room to take his final breath. That may well have been his final act of love for all of you.....Thank you for supporting us through thick and thin, and I know you'll continue to be a part of the pancreatic cancer community and continue the fight for a cure. Your Dad must have been so proud of your energy, light and enthusiasm. 💜💪🏽
John, Neal like this comment
Karen, did you want me to set up a memorial for your dad?
I am not sure why I never saw this before now but I just wanted to extend my condolences
So sorry.
Hi Karen. I am sorry to hear about your Dad's illness and your loss of him so soon. I take to heart what you said about all the wishes we could have for do-overs. I hope you've been able to find peace, eventually, in the garden. Your Dad sounds like a loving, gentle soul.
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March 11, 2017

My Dad went on hospice last week. It has been a very painful time for me personally. I want to cry every day and if I hold it in, I have trouble breathing, so much so that I look forward to sleeping so that my breath can become normal again. I am home now actually and have been coming home the last couple weekends. My Dad has been sleeping a lot and can barely sit to eat but he is still here...He went to the hospital a few weeks ago for a lot of pain and was admitted after a lengthy wait in the ER. There, we were told the tumor had no response to the chemo and it didn't matter anyways because the chemo was killing him too. He was eating about 1/2 cup of rice for about 2 weeks and was sick from it, (the chemo, not the rice, hey! my cooking is not that bad! :)) So we left the hospital with palliative care but my parents signed up for hospice last week. He has been eating more but is still very weak; he got the catheter installed to drain all of the fluid and that has been building up quite frequently. So that's where we stand I guess. It's terrible, it's depressing but the naïveté in me is still hoping for a miracle. I wonder why I am taking this harder than my two other sisters? It is because I do not have the absolute faith in God that I will see my dad again after death? Or is it because I am not so removed like my other sister? She is further away so it is easier to swallow for her.  Maybe it is because I see the fragility in life more. But I do know that when my Dad dies I will feel a hollowness and a sadness for a very long time. I do not know who will be able to comfort me during this time and I'm dreading all of this. 

Pen threw a punch at your cancer.
3 people sent you a prayer.
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aww, Karen I am sorry to hear this.. I really feel your pain. I lost my Dad to cancer to and I still miss him. Stay close to him now and hold him and love him and he knows you love him. This is the way God made us and we will be together again and really life is short.. it won't be long and we will all be together again. Ask God to help you and he will.. he already is. The one thing I was grateful for is that he was not in pain anymore.. God bless you and your Dad and family..hugs and love and always prayers Sabina
I'm sorry your Dad & family have to go through this. You do what you have to do to get out of bed and function, even if it means holding onto hope for a miracle; that admirable to me. The Hospice people are there for all of you; seek their guidance if and when the need arises. God bless all of you.
I don't know what to say, Karen - except that I am dreading the day too. My man's pancreatic cancer has been much more indolent than most, and very responsive to chemo. But as with your Dad, I fear the chemo itself is causing irreparable harm and he is literally a frail shadow of the person he used to be. I don't know why some of us have a harder time than others and I don't know if it has to do with belief systems, particular sensitivities, geographical proximity or emotional closeness. I'm not the least bit afraid of death, and view it as an inevitable part of the cycle of existence. But that doesn't mean I won't be torn apart, wretched and wrecked if my guy goes before I do. I've been struck over the past couple of years by your particular closeness to your Dad, and I can see how badly you are hurting. Feel and experience it all, hold your Dad, whisper sweet words of love and comfort, stroke his head. And if he can stand it, massage his feet (yes, this helps!). Think of it as a privilege to be able to be there with him at the end. I have lost a loved one in an automobile accident where there were no goodbyes, no preparations - only shocks and regrets. Make the most of this time to say goodbye.
(We must have a bit of a psychic connection, because I actually checked your blog yesterday at about 7:00 EST to see if perhaps you'd posted something that I missed. I've no idea what made me think about you at that moment in time.....).
💜💪🏽
4 people like this comment
ALl you can do is tell your day every day how much you love him, and that will be your memory of him when the time comes. And keep him alive in your heart.
Carol likes this comment
first i just want to thank you for allowing me to laugh for a quick second and allowing yourself to laugh. When you dad dies he dies twice. He dies once when he is prounanced dead then he dies again many years later when everyone forgets his name. Please remeber the times you had with her dad and the women that you are today, i love you just like i would like my own sister we are a family at the end of the day and you can feel free to write what ever you want when ever you want, i will drop everything im doing just to listen to you!
Carol likes this comment
I am so sorry Karen. You dad looks to be a about the age and build of my husband who was diagnosed with pc last Oct. Be there for him and continue to make sweet memories, as that's the way he will continue to be in your life as the years go by. He looks like he is a very kind, sweet and wise man. He is lucky to have such a wonderful family to help him through this. We all wish we could change the course of events with this disease, it is very unkind. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Deborah
I am so, so sorry for you. My prayers are for God's comforting arms to reach out to you through others during this time and into your future. Although, it has been a year come April 1 that my mother passed away it still hurts as if it was yesterday. I think for some people they feel more deeply than others. My mother would say that as a young child I would cry watching Lassie Come Home, although I knew each time Lassie would come home safely. Build yourself up with a support network of family and friends to help comfort you. Do not focus on the loss of the future, but focus now on the care you can give your father and also for yourself.
Loosing someone you love is never easy. Be there for him, give your Dad you love and accept his love for you. He will always live in your heart and memories. You are strong and let people help you.
it is never easy, keep your prayers up and we will all keep you in our prayers and thoughts. So sorry for the news, My father fought cancer for 11 years and had more chemo and radiation, than I thought, one person could endure, No matter how long things go on the bitter end is always difficult. Wish you both the best.
Karen so sorry to hear your dad has went into hospice! My prayers are with you.. Even if your faith is not into believing that there's life after death.. God is still with you and will see you through.. You're still his child and he loves you whether you believe in him or not... Prayers you will accept his unconditional Love and will see your dad in Heaven when the time comes... It's the only thing that gets me through the death of my son!! The hope and faith of seeing him again!!! I was a lot mad at him for taking my son, but I know he knows what's best.. XOXO, Prayers for you and your family, Lenae
I believe you seeing and being with your dad, watching him go through everything is hard.. That is one reason your having a hard time... When people don't see it they have no idea how hard it is.. Until you walk through seeing first hand what Cancer or any debilitating illness can do you can't truly understand the pain or feelings that are felt.. It's almost been a year since my son left this earth and my heart grieves the destruction Cancer put on his body.. It's hard to watch someone you love suffer.. Stay strong and many prayers being sent your way! Lenae
Carol likes this comment
Karen, This is, I think, my first time reading your blog. I am sorry it is such a sad occasion...
Your feelings, currently--and for a time to come, are, I believe, a combination of everything you mentioned....
I am not trying to "be religious", but, you CAN find comfort ffrom God; if you open yourself up to Him. A lot of times we don't understand why things are allowed to happen. It took YEARS for me to stop asking, "Why." We have to know we aren't in charge....I have much more peace now---except when the news is on. Ha!
We will help you through this journey. You are not alone. Hug, hug, hug!!
Carol
Karen, I was in your shoes less than 4 years ago. I wish we could commiserate more.... For now, I offer your my virtual hugs. Pls feel free to message me privately if you want to talk. I woukd love to lend an ear to you anytime.
I hope you are doing alright. We are all thinking about you.
Karen, I hope you will let us know all this turned out. We have all followed your story and know that sad endings are all too common. Laren
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Karen's Dad

May 1, 2017

Vital Info

Posts

May 5, 2015

Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania 16403

May 1, 2017

Cancer Info

Pancreas Cancer

Adenocarcinoma

April 17, 2015

Stage 3

2.1 - 3.0 cm

Yes

I hate the pancreas! Who thinks about the pancreas??

Cherish every moment of your life and being around your loved ones. Have patience in all you do especially with your family (sometimes we are the least patient with them because we know eventually they will forgive us!)

Eat your own cruciferous veggies! They can help prevent pancreatic cancer.

Not to organs, arteries are involved: hepatic and celiac axis

Field and Stream gift certificates for my Dad!

Primary: Erie Regional Cancer Center Surgery consultation: Hillman Cancer Center Surgery: John Hopkins Baltimore

Walk your puppies. Dogs give me a happiness that humans cannot. If you have dogs you understand. If you don't, you have been missing out.

Take a deep breath and if you can't take a deep breath, find something to laugh about!

Prior to stent: extreme nausea, fatigue, weight loss (15 lbs), back pain, jaundice, loss of appetite (unable to finish meals), abdominal pain, needing to take several anti-acids daily Present: back pain, feeling easily full, abdominal pain, increased appetite for potato pancakes!!!!!!

Extreme fatigue, some dry heaving, hair loss, neutropenia

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