Marie, diagnosed with operable pancreatic adenocarcinoma in 2012
On October 11th I visited my GP in Malmesbury having not felt generally well for less than a week, but showing some signs of jaundice. I am a Personal Trainer, a marathon runner and have always enjoyed very good health. Blood tests which came back no Monday October 15th showed some liver dysfunction.
On Wednesday October 17th 2012 I visited the GP again as the jaundice had got worse. He sent me to A&E at Swindon Hospital, suspecting gallstones. After an overnight stay I had an ultrasound examination. The radiographer could find no signs of gallstones, but sent me immediately for a CT scan.
The doctor returned in the afternoon with the diagnosis that I had pancreatic cancer. He sent me home for the weekend, but I returned on the Monday to have a stent fitted, which relieved the jaundice and the itching, and helped me feel much better.
I was referred to the Churchill Hospital in Oxford and had a consultation with Mr Soonawalla's team. I was a candidate for the Whipples procedure, and had the surgery on November 21st. The surgery, performed by Mr Silva, went very well, and I came home on December 1st.
I am now having adjuvant chemotherapy under Dr. Claire Blessing at Swindon Hospital. I am taking part in the ESPAC-4 trial, so am visiting the hospital three weeks out of four to have Gemcetabine, and taking Capecitabine twice daily. I am booked to have six cycles of treatment, and have finished my second cycle. So far I have been very lucky and had very few side effects, just a little tiredness and very slight nausea.
Apart from recovering from the surgery - the muscles are taking a long time to heal! - I feel really well (although I can't run yet!) I know that the statistics of recovery from pancreatic cancer are awful, but I am remaining positive and optimistic. The love and support of family and friends has been wonderful. The care of the doctors, nurses and all the medical staff, from my first visit to the GP, through to surgery at Oxford, and chemotherapy in Swindon has been outstanding, and certainly an early diagnosis has given me the best chance.
I am looking forward to taking part in a lot of fund-raising for Pancreatic Cancer UK - hopefully the 2014 London Marathon! I Have already started training (but don't let Mr Silva know!) My youngest daughter Teresa is running in her first half marathon on July 7th 2013 in Birmingham and busy raising funds for pancreatic cancer. Hopefully we might be able to run London together in 2014!!"
First published March 2013
Update October 2013
It is now a year since my diagnosis. Looking back, I can hardly believe what has happened - receiving my diagnosis after a very brief illness, major surgery, and six months of chemotherapy, which finished in June. Life is almost back to normal, although it can never be the same as it was before. For me, the cancer has shaken my certainty in life, but it has also made life more precious.
Towards the end the chemotherapy was very tough going - certainly in how tired it made me and how nauseous. I am at best a coward, but I gritted my teeth and saw the chemotherapy through, as I knew it would give me the best chance. Overall the treatment and care I have received in the NHS has been truly amazing. I have also experienced the love of so many people, and I am determined not to take friendships for granted in the future.
So, although I wish I had not had pancreatic cancer, I do feel that for me a lot of good things have come out of it. Amongst all the bad news that goes with pancreatic cancer, I want to stand up and show that a good outcome is possible. I am not complacent, I know that the cancer could return. But for now life is good, and I am looking forward to the future.
I also feel that I have a mission now, to support the cancer charities in any way I am able. What I do know is that an early diagnosis does give people the best chance of survival, and that research is vital.
My youngest daughter and myself are running the London Marathon in 2014 for Pancreatic Cancer UK. We will be spending the next few months fund-raising and training.........and if anyone has any advice for coping with troublesome knees then please do get in touch!!!