Krystyna's Story

My Mother Irena

Krystyna's Mother Irena

Perth 2012, it had been two years since my father passed away and my mother who was his full time carer for many years was lost without having someone to look after. At the same time, she was 84 and it was time for her to do things for herself. She decided to do volunteer work at a charity shop just up the road from her home. She went on various little bus trips and basically just started looking after herself. I was worried about her living in Perth on her own so suggested that she might like to move up to Queensland to stay with my husband and I as we were the only family she had. Reluctantly she decided to visit us to see if she could in fact move over to another city so far away from where she had lived for 62 years.

Arrangements were made for me to fly over and come back with her as she hadn’t flown for over 40 years. Eight weeks before she was due to fly she had a mild stroke (her third in the past six years). While she was in hospital having various tests they discovered a tumour on her pancreas. She still came to Brisbane but the diagnosis had made up her mind for her as far as moving here – it was too much for her. We had a lovely time with her while she was here but I worried about her once she went back home and had no one to care for her. However as usual my Mum just carried on as normal and kept going to work and having her check ups at the hospital till April 2013 I flew over as she was having another result from some tests done. This time she was told that there was a tumour on her liver and the cancer had metastasized. She was given the option of having chemotherapy however as her quality of life at this stage was not too bad, it wasn’t the best option for her. Mum made the decision that as long as she could be kept pain free she would deal with the cancer without chemotherapy.

So on my return to Brisbane I made a decision that I would go and live and look after her for however long she was going to be here. So I took time off work and told my husband of my decision. I went back in May and looked after her in her own home where people could come and visit her at their leisure. The Doctors visited and prescribed medication for her to keep her as pain free as possible. During this time she developed DVT and was in extreme pain, which took over a week to diagnose. Once it was confirmed, she then required injections everyday. It was palliative care at home. With help from my family and my very close friends I managed to care for her for 3 months until she passed away in July 2013 a month after her 87th birthday.

It wasn’t an easy time watching how this disease was slowly but surely killing my Mum. Sometimes it felt very surreal. I was so lucky to have been able to look after her and tell her how much I loved her and wanted to be there for her. I was her only child and was truly loved and cared for by her. This was not a fair way for my mother’s life to end after her tragic past.

Pancreatic Cancer is horrible, I am so grateful to all the people who have been and are raising awareness of this terrible disease. With more funds for research perhaps we can find a cure for future generations.