Hello to all. This is Charles Jackson. I am Maggie’s husband. I am attempting to provide an update to Maggie’s blog.
I wish to inform all who are following her blog that Maggie has passed beyond the bonds of this world. My heart is utterly shattered and I am very sorry to bear this bad news.
It is my plan to continue Maggie’s story through her blog from the perspective of myself, her caregiver. Please forgive me for any typos, word usage, syntax, or any other errors as I am not the writer that she was. I hope to keep the tone of her blog as she intended it, raw, real, informative, compassionate and inspirational.
Maggie met her battle with pancreatic cancer with the same ferocity that she met every challenge in her life. Never give up, fight to the bitter end, always strive to find another way, never stop researching and looking for answers and the truth, always do the best that you can and do, even more if possible. Persevere and continue on until you utterly cannot.
Maggie continued on with her fight for 15 months beyond what the oncologists expected her to endure. There is an entire lifetime of dialogue that I could provide from my perspective regarding her journey, but I will not, cannot do this now. There is just too much information and emotion to attempt this now. More to follow on this I assure you.
I will simply end this post with documenting her last few weeks. I must warn you, the following may be difficult to read but it is real, it is raw and it was her intention to document all of it. I am simply trying to honor that wish.
Maggie had developed an ulcer in her duodenum due to the tumor on her pancreas rapidly consuming the duodenum. This was discovered in October of 2018 and it was bleeding. The surgeons embolized the main artery to this area to attempt to stop the bleeding. For a time this appeared to have worked but inexplicably her hemoglobin numbers continued to slowly drop. Over the next few weeks she required numerous blood transfusions to try and increase her hemoglobin levels. In late November, a few days after Thanksgiving, she awoke to a severely swollen left leg. I immediately took her to the emergency room where it was discovered that she had developed a DVT (a blood clot) in her leg and that some of the clot had broken loose and ended up in her lungs in very small pieces. The blood clotting was news to both of us because no one had told us until now that this is common with cancer patients of all types, particularly for pancreatic cancer patients. An IVC filter was implanted to stop any further blood clots from passing to her lungs and brain. This worked but The IVC filter disqualified her from the immunotherapy clinical trial that she was on. More on this later. After a few days in the hospital after the IVC implant it was determined that there was nothing more to be done. No clinical trials available, nor were there any that she qualified for due to low hemoglobin. She and I and her oncologist decided that the only option left was hospice. Keep her comfortable and hope that the situation improves.
Maggie continued on through the holidays with relatively good quality of life, visiting the farm where she grew up and entertaining family and friends at our home. She would drift in and out of sleep frequently during the visits but she and everyone else did not care. The important thing was that they were there and she could engage in the laughter, jokes and conversation right along with them. Very good times indeed!
Early in the morning of January 20th of 2019, Maggie awoke to severe nausea and began expelling large quantities of blood. This was a sure sign that her ulcer had ruptured and was bleeding freely. The tumor had completely consumed her duodenum and created a blockage, causing the rupture. She continued to fight, trying to eat and drink even though she had absolutely no desire to. To no avail, nothing was getting through. Everything she took in would sit in her tummy for a few hours and then come back up with large quantities of blood. She became tired and weak. At no time was she ever in any pain. The hospice team did an amazing job of providing all that was needed to prevent pain and provide comfort. All she experienced was occasional nausea.
I called all family members early that morning and they all came to our home and rallied around her. We all talked with her, laughed with her provided her comfort and most of all let her know just how much she was loved. Later in the day that Sunday she was very comfortable and relaxed. She slept most of that time and would awake long enough to take medication.
By late evening, the entire family had decided to stay the night in the home to help provide comfort and support. I gave her medication at about 10pm and by 11:30pm everyone was settling in for the night, all the while Maggie was sleeping comfortably. I slept beside her on a cot in the living room, she sleeping on a hospital bed provided by the hospice team.
At 4:30am January 21, 2019 I awoke to her breathing oddly. I turned on the lights and tried to arouse her but she did not respond. She lied there sleeping comfortably just as she had been for the past several hours. Another family member awoke at the same time and ran through the house waking everyone to come and be with her. The entire family surrounded her, held her hands, gently stroked her head and comforted her, spoke to her, told her how much she was loved, told her that is was ok to let go. No pain, no struggle, only peace.
At 5:45am January 21, 2019 I was by her side holding her hand, the family all around her. Literally with a smile on her face, She took her last breath.
She left this world exactly the way she wanted to, in her home, with all her family around her, me holding her hand, pain free and in her sleep. She and I had spoken about this moment many times before. I would like to tell you that we did our best to prepare for it but you can never fully prepare yourself for this.
For her part, I believe she she felt she was ready and it was time. She was at peace, knowing she had no pain, all of her family with her, and me by her side.
For my part, I knew this day would come and I did my best to prepare, anticipate, provide what she needed and ensure that her last moment was just the way she had imagined. I believe I succeeded in that, but my struggle continues. I am honored and humbled that I was able to help her complete her journey in this world. The sadness and loneliness is almost too much to bear. Her pain has ended, mine has only just begun.
More to come. Stay tuned……
Maggie’s husband, Charlie