Pancreatic Cancer Changed My Life, This Is My Story

Hey Cuties,

I’m sharing a story that is very near and dear to my heart. It is a personal story about my cousin Thais. My first cousins and I grew up like sisters because we are all girls and close in age. At some point in my childhood, we’ve all lived together. I also want to educate you on Pancreatic Cancer since November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month and Stevens-Johnson Syndrome because knowledge is power.

pancreatic cancer Stevens-Johnson Syndrome

Cousin Pyramid Family Picture 80’s style.

Thais is in the middle row far left, this was before she ever got sick. I’m at the bottom row far right. Peep our hairstyle.

In December 2016, Thais made her way to the emergency room, she was feeling horrible and experiencing flu-like symptoms. What she didn’t know was that visit to the ER would almost kill her. The doctors prescribed her antibiotics and told her to get some rest. Problem is Thais has known allergies to sulfa drugs and reported this to the ER physicians during the visit.  Clearly, they didn’t listen and from there all hell broke loose.

pancreatic cancer Stevens-Johnson Syndrome

Thais before the second round of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome

Thais began to have an allergic reaction to the drugs prescribed to her. It began as a red, bumpy rash on her face. Sadly this scenario was all too familiar. The rash began to spread and turn to blisters causing her body to burn from the inside out. She was rushed from Columbia, SC to Augusta, GA to the JMS Burn Center; they were incredible. She arrived with a fever of 104 – 105.5 and it would stay that way for over 2 weeks. It was constant touch and go and we didn’t know if Thais would make it or not. The odds were stacked against her; she had a similar reaction back in 1985 (at age 7) that almost killed her.  Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is what they call this horrible flesh-eating disease that essentially causes your body to cook itself. (Let that sink in for a minute.) The chances of surviving this more than once are less than favorable.

Her body turned black as if she had been charred on a grill and then the skin began to peel off. Thais lost an entire layer of skin on 80% of her body, her hair, and fingernails. The doctors at JMS had to put pigskin and cadaver skin over her peeling skin to protect it from infection with the hope that her skin would grow back as normal as possible. While this is happening on the outside, the same is happening on the inside. Her organs are cooking and not responding well to numerous medications running from two IV poles next to her bed.

On January 25, 2017, a little over a month following her admission to the Burn Center,  they called us together and told us she might not make it through the night.  She went from being on a ventilator, undergoing dialysis, having multiple deadly infections, and knocking on death’s door several times to talking to us and thanking God. She had to have a tracheotomy and several procedures during her stay.

pancreatic cancer Stevens-Johnson Syndrome

Thais – October 2017

After spending months in the hospital and post-release she has had to be readmitted for varying ailments as a result of all she endured. This second round of the Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) has left her completely blind. Blindness is scary enough but to be blind, extremely sick and learning to walk again is even harder. Thais lost a lot of weight and suffered from pain in her abdomen accompanied by nausea and vomiting. This turned out to be a little more than a simple case of pancreatitis.  After several medical visits, biopsy’s and a stent in her liver Thais was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer that had spread to her liver.

Almost a year later Thais has beat a lot of odds. We are thankful to have her around, she is still fighting for her life but she is at a stage where she wants to share her story. I was honored that she reached out to me. I’m guilty of taking some basic things for granted and this is a reminder that some things aren’t as important as we think they are…

pancreatic cancer

photo credit: https://www.pancan.org/

Thais has been undergoing chemotherapy since early September and is fighting as hard as she can. I call her once a week to chat with her and check on her. I send her YouTube links to the media things I do as a way to bring the outside life to her.  I ask how she is doing but we chat about everything other than being sick.

pancreatic cancer Stevens-Johnson Syndrome

The Villiage

During this almost year-long ordeal her mother, sisters, and two kids have been taking care of her.  It hasn’t been easy but they are doing what they can. Her GoFundMe account has more details and pictures of her during this hard process.  This picture is a few years old, but it includes My Aunt (her Mom) in the middle and her sisters on each side of their Mom with Thais on the far right in purple.  This picture is perfect because purple is the support color for pancreatic cancer.

In June we drove 8hrs to Columbia, SC to visit Thais. She had no idea we were coming, we could only stay a day but it was great to hug her.  My Mom took this video of our arrival, I didn’t even notice in the moment but I’m glad she did. We are family and we are no different from anyone else. We fuss, we fight, we tease but at the end of the day we love and we love hard. We show up for one another and that is why we are such a close family.

pancreatic cancer Stevens-Johnson Syndrome

12/25/17 Update: The family wore purple on Thanksgiving day in honor of Pancreatic Cancer Month. I’m happy to report her tumors in her pancreas and liver have shrunk; we are so excited about the progress.

8/18/18 Update: Thais departed this earthly life for her heavenly home. Thank you for sharing her story. I read her all of your comments, and they touched her to her core.

Chat with me in the comments below or FBIG, and Twitter.

Article written by:

Mimi Robinson is the Lifestyle Media Correspondent and editor behind MimiCuteLips®. She is a wife and mother of two. You can find Mimi working media at your favorite events, traveling and trying out new adventures, or working on a dope DIY project.

Join the discussion

  1. Sheena Steward

    Please tell her she’s so inspiring! She’s been through so much and continues to fight. She’s such a strong and incredible woman. Thank you for sharing this with your readers. ❤

  2. Chelsea

    Mimi, thank you for sharing this story. I personally do not know anyone who has been impacted by pancreatic cancer. However, I feel much more informed after reviewing the 16 warning signs. Cancer seems to be so rampant in our community. I will keep your cousin in my prayers.

  3. Crystal Nicole

    Many blessings to you and your family. I know how difficult it is to watch someone you love battle cancer, but it takes a different kind of love to weather the storm with them. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

    • MimiCuteLips

      It does, but it makes us tougher. You never know what you can handle until you are put to the test. It helps put life in perspective.

  4. Carissa

    Whenever you talk about your cousins I always think of my sister and my cousins because we grew up the same way! The video almost took me out! I’m sitting here crying!! I will be praying for healing for your cousin!

    • MimiCuteLips

      Girl, yes. Some folks hardly know their cousins but mine are like sisters. Thanks for your prayers. I can’t wait to write another update of triumph.

  5. Chrissy

    Thais is my sher-ro! She’s a true fighter, mother and overall conquering everything thrown at her! Continuous prayers! Hugs and Kisses!

  6. Janelle

    Wow! Very touching. She is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing her story. I will be donating on her go fund me account in the next few days. May the Lord give her strength and give her a speedy recovery. She is blessed and highly favored.

    • MimiCuteLips

      OMG, Janelle. Thank you so much. She and I have talked about how our story isn’t for us it is for others. I’m so happy she was ready to share it with the world.

  7. Keisha Williams

    Awww! Thank you so much for this. Cancer sucks, SJS, and adverse allergic reactions REALLY suck!

    • MimiCuteLips

      You are so welcome, I’m glad I was able to do it. Girl, all of this sucks. I’m looking forward to it being a thing of the past.

  8. Gwendolen Bailey Morgan

    Wow!! I remember her as a child; we’re probably the same age. I may be older. Anyway, I remember her coming to visit your Grandmom, Sis Florence and would come to church . I also remember her being sick at age seven. I’m praying for her. I pray God strengthens her mind, body and spirit. I’m almost speechless. I feel like crying cause her story really touched my heart. May God bless her and her family.

    • MimiCuteLips

      Oh Gwen, thank you so much. I totally remember you growing up and I’m sure she does too. It has been a tough year but she is a fighter.

  9. candy

    Having a close and supportive family is so important when going through something like this. We know because my husband has been through cancer. Everyone needs support.

  10. Heather

    Our family has been affected by cancer too. The C word is one of the most feared these days and I hope I don’t ever have to hear it pertaining to my family again. Glad she’s doing so well!

    • MimiCuteLips

      It seems like a word we can’t get away from. Like you I hope to never hear it again in my family. My Mom and Mother in Law are both cancer survivors.

  11. Sarah Bailey

    Oh my goodness what a fighter, how brave to share the story. Pancreatic Cancer is definitely something that needs more awareness about just how devastating it can be.

  12. Yvette Sandy

    I remember your cousin from back in 1985, your Mom spoke of her troubles. I prayed for her then and I’ll pray for her now. May God bless her.

  13. Heather

    Oh I’m so sorry about your cousin. I am so glad she has a dedicated family there to help her through this even if you aren’t close by, calling and letting her know she can fight this will help her spirits so much. It’s so good she has you.

  14. Ngumabi

    This is so touching
    How can one’s life just change out of a sudden?
    Much courage to your family and thanks for sharing this story

  15. Crystal Lewis

    Your cousin is such an inspiration! She’s a true fighter, and I will pray for her continued strength.

    PS – Your baby picture is so cute. You look like your daughter! 🙂

  16. Emily

    Wow, her strength is amazing! I hope she continues to improve and enjoy life! These signs and symptoms of cancer are really helpful and so important to know, thank you for sharing them and her story!

  17. Hope Johnson

    I met Thais in Columbia at the Life Center. She was always so sweet to me and and so was her Mom. Please let her know that she will be constantly in my prayers and that I love her.

    • MimiCuteLips

      Thank you so much, Hope. I spoke with her and my Aunt today and read her some of the comments. She is so honored to know so many have left words of encouragement.

  18. Kasi

    Thanks for sharing her story! She has been through a lot and is so strong! Continued prayers for her healing!

  19. Eva

    What an inspiration! I have lost people near and dear to me to pancreatic cancer, but SJS? My first time really hearing about the effects of that. She is a real fighter.

  20. Natasha

    Oh, the tears. I’m so in awe of Thais and the fight in her! Thank you for sharing your cousin with us, and thank HER for letting her story be shared.

  21. Tanya

    This was beautiful Mimi. I will be praying for her and her family. She’s blessed to have you.

  22. Kiwi

    Omg this story breaks my heart. Your body can cook itself from the inside out??? I am so sorry to hear about your cousin Thais I am happy she is still alive and I will be sending positive energy to her and you and family.

  23. Tiffany Haywood

    First: thank you so much for sharing such a person story with us. I am praying for your family and your cousin.
    Second: thank you for educating me on a topic I really knew close to nothing about. I had no idea that a symptom or sign of Pancreatic Cancer could be diabetes. This was eye-opening and I will definitely be making myself more aware.

    • MimiCuteLips

      Thank you, Tiffany. Honestly, before she was diagnosed I didn’t know much about pancreatic cancer myself. To know that it is so hard to get a diagnosis means precious time is lost.

  24. Lynn Woods

    OMG! Your cousin is an inspiration. She is truly a fighter. Thanks for sharing her story!

  25. Kim

    My mom passed away in 1981 from pancreatic cancer. It was never really heard of back then. I wouldn’t want anyone to have to go through that awful disease. I know what you all have been going through and positive thoughts being sent your way.

  26. Terri Beavers

    Wow, my neighbor had a reaction to an antibiotic last week and it had sulfur in it as well. She ended up staying 4 days over the ordeal. She’s so lucky that it wasn’t as bad as this. I really hope all goes well with your cousin. I don’t know anyone with pancreatic cancer but we all need to be aware of it.

  27. Jen Temcio

    Her symptoms sound like they are made up out of a science fiction movie or something. How can the human body endure so much medical and physical trauma and still survive? Thais is one of the strongest people I have ever heard about. She is triumphant.

  28. Liz Mays

    I’m so glad she has such a caring family fighting alongside her! I really do think having that support helps.

  29. Kita Bryant

    Oh my gosh, what an awful awful thing to happen to someone. I can’t imagine what that must have felt like to her and those around her.

    • MimiCuteLips

      Girl, everyone probably needs some therapy. This is tough to deal with and visually it would bring you to your knees while she was at the burn center.

  30. Sara Welch

    She is one of the strongest women I have ever had the pleasure to read about. What an amazing encouragement to know that life isn’t as hard as WE think it is until we’ve seen what others are going through.

  31. Joanna @ Everyday Made Fresh

    What a touching story. She is so brave. I would hope that if anything like that ever come close to happening to me, that I put up the same fight that she did.

  32. Gisele

    Oh Mimi, I’m so sorry your cousin Thais has gone through this horrible ordeal! Thank you for sharing her story and putting the word out there about pancreatic cancer. Sending prayers and love for Thais and your family.

  33. Amy @ Marvelous Mommy

    Omgosh, I can’t believe it took so long to make the diagnosis. That’s horrible that the doctor AND the pharmacist missed her allergy! Prayers to her, I was always very close with my cousin too.

  34. Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen

    Thank you for sharing Thais story to us. She is inspiring as her passion for life. We really have to spread awareness about Pancreatic cancer.

  35. Zarinah

    Amazing story! You are such an awesome person to share it with. Thabks for always bringing awareness. Prayers to you cousin and family! 😘

  36. Jeanine

    This is absolutely awful. Cancer is terrible. I’ve lost many to cancer, my mom and grandparents included when I was very young. Thanks for sharing.

  37. Claudia Krusch

    Thais is such a strong and amazing woman. She is such an inspiration. I really hope she can beat this and get better. She is lucky to have such a strong support system.

  38. Cyn Gagen

    Oh my goodness. I am at a loss for words. I’ve never heard of this before and can’t even imagine being strong enough to go through it. She is one powerful person. I will keep her in my prayers.

  39. Kim

    Aww look at you girl’s hair. It was cute. I am sorry to hear about your cousin, Thais. I have never heard of Steven-Johnsons Syndrom. It is crazy that the body can burn itself from the inside out.

    I hope your cousin does not have to suffer anymore.

    • MimiCuteLips

      Girl, we still laugh at our hair in this picture to this day. There have been more cases now but when she got it the first time it was almost unheard of. It is crazy how our body can attack itself.

      We hope the chemo does what we need it to do.

  40. Nichole Arnold

    What an amazing story. Please let her know she is an inspiration to many and her story will help others learn about this topic. Thank you for sharing with us!

  41. Daria

    From day to day, one never knows. That’s why I try to be conscious of my words and actions. This really touched me and warmed me in the same. She is so lucky to have family with a close knit bond. I’m really speechless, God is good. I’m so happy she’s decided to fight. I know it isn’t easy but with her support system and God, she’s being a fighter. Thanks for sharing and once again opening my eye’s to life, and the statement, you just never know.

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