My Story is about Gabriele, my father.
This event took place from 05/26/2022 to 09/14/2022
In the spring 2022 my father started having some discomfort after eating, his general medicine doctor prescribed drugs for irritated esophagus. Nothing changed till 25th of may, when my father the GM doctor suggests to have an ultrasound scan on the abdomen “I suspect you got an aneurism in that area”.
This prompted me to bring my dad in the most important hospital of our area. After a long day of tests, everything was apparently ok and they couldn’t see any signs of aneurism or cancer. Still my father was still suffering in his back, abdomen and stomach. So after further investigations, a huge mass was found in the pancreatic area and the we were told it was impossible to do anything in that hospital. So we arranged a paid appointment in one the most important private hospital of Italy for, we flew to Milan. He was admitted to Ospedale San Raffaele, here they told the bad news: he got a border line pancreatic adenocarcinome in the body and tail, the surgeon told my father he had to undergo chemotherapy and heparin twice a day to control a huge blood cloth in the liver blood vessel.
This is My Story
My and my brother moved back to our parents house to help our father and our mother, both shocked by the diagnosis.
Gabriele started having unbearable pain, so the specialist suggested a procedure called “Celiac Plexus Neurolysis”. The situation kinda improved but we had to wait a month for him to start chemotherapy. So in meantime his stage 3 pancreatic cancer started to increase in volume (over 8 cm) and all the principal blood vessels were reached.
My father legs and feet started to swell up a lot, at the point he was able to walk with great difficulty, we tried with drugs and drainages. His conditions started to deteriorate very fast, he was unable to eat and drink and lost weight, we booked a paid appointment with a doctor who prescribed some special drinks suitable for pancreatic patients, he improved and started gaining his weight. He was always cheerful and wanted to have walks on the wheelchair every evening with us.
The last chemotherapy session was the beginning of the end.
According to his blood test (we knew that lately in the day in the Emergency room,), my father wasn’t eligible for the treatment that day, but somehow the doctor decided to administer it. In the evening my dad started to feel freezing cold and to breath with great difficulty.
In the ER we were told my father got sepsis and there wasn’t a single free bed to admit him in the hospital.
We bring him back home, frail in the body and the spirit. He survived 2 weeks on antibiotics, the situation was dramatic. He was admitted in the hospice were he passed away the 14th of September, with no pain, surrounded by us, his family, and the precious cares of nurses and doctors.
The pancreatic cancer transformed a healthy and sporty 69years old man to a frail creature in no time, he survived 3 months and half after diagnosis, also because in our area we don’t have a pancreatic unit and wasn’t able to fly to Milan, or Verona.
The hardest point was when an oncologist from our local hospital told us “We don’t cure pancreatic tumors here, we can only help the patients with some palliative care”.
From our point of view, everything can change for patients and families with the creation of pancreatic units, there’s only a couple of places in Italy and they can’t absorb the whole number of patients. There’s still a lot to do in this fight, we know very well, but the meantime patients and their families are suffering greatly because of the lack of support.
The Impact of Time
An early detection would have changed everything for Gabriele, but it was just impossible. Some weeks prior covid19 began to spread Italy in 2020, my father went to an endocrinologist after his blood test showed something abnormal. The endocrinologist suspected hyperglycemia and asked my father to have a more specific blood test, he got the results on march 2020, the country was then on national lockdown. The doctor never answered our phone calls, emails, messages. 2020, 2021 and part of 2022 where very difficult for healthcare in our country, with Hospitals and clinics almost closed to the people. It resulted impossible to get an appointment till June 2022.