Well, that was it - at 5 am this Friday my mom passed away. I feel a strong need to give back to this forum, but since I'm nowhere near finding the cure for cancer (though I might try some biohacking in the future), I'll just describe the ordeal that my mother faced, so that perhaps some other patients and loved ones can in the future be prepared for what this disease might bring. Needless to say, every cancer story is a different one, so your mileage may (most likely will) vary:
September 2012: mom starts losing weight, thinks one of her diets has finally worked (she's been overweight for as long as I can remember, but not really obese)
November 2012: urine gets dark, she unfortunately ignores this symptom (maybe the billirrubin was already making her confused or perhaps she was starting to have mild dementia due to her age)
December 2012: jaundice shows up, GP orders ultrasound, which is inconclusive. Only after MRI and CT scans it's relatively clear that it's a cholangiocarcinoma, not operable according to two different doctors
01/02/2013: plastic stent inserted
01/09/2013: stent didn't work, decision to go for radiotherapy. Meanwhile mom gets weaker, sleeps a lot.
01/16/2013: ultrasound biopsy failed due to too much fluid. Mon starts suffering from incontinence.
02/01/2013: oncologist gives her one or two months, gastroenterologist suggests external drainage
02/03/2013: mom gets really week and refuses to eat at home, so I take her to the hospital
02/04/2013: mild pneumonia detected, treatment for infection started with antibiotics
02/05/2013: radiologist comes and starts preparation for external drainage
02/06/2013: she starts getting blood to be prepared for the drainage procedure, since she has severe anemia; severe loss of conscience, talks less and less
02/07/2013: stops eating food, taking only yogurt and shakes
02/08/2013: we cancel the drainage procedure since her conscience goes almost completely away. She starts being fed through a feeding tube
02/09/2013: last time she talks something other than "hi"
02/11/2013: oxygen added to help her breathe. Doctor suspects she's in pain and adds analgesics
02/12/2013: doctor adds morphine to her prescription. Blood pressure gets really low at night.
02/13/2013: starts having secretions pumped from her throat and lungs, her breathing sounds "bubbly". Urine needs to start getting drained too.
02/14/2013: doctor says she's in coma
02/15/2013: death due to acute respiratory failure
Though it might sound scary for someone who has never dealt with a cancer patient in the family, I'm afraid many will recognize some of these "steps" as being part of their history with their loved ones. I hope I don't bring too many bad memories, but putting this "on paper" is a way for me to cope with the terrible way in which the disease has progressed.
One last thing: as you may notice from the account of the facts above, CC has been for my mom a permanent downward spiral: there were no "ups and downs", it just kept getting worse and worse.
Still, I do wish sincerely that future patients do not go through this ordeal, though I'm afraid the technology is not there yet :-(