Karen shares the story of her husband, Scott, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when he was 49.
Scott was very a fit, active man. After a long spell of tests we were told he had pancreatic cancer. That’s it. We left the doctors in shock.
What did this mean? Surgery, chemo, is he dying? 3 days later we found out. A visit to the hospital told us everything.
Scott’s name was called and we walked into an office to see 2 nurses, but no doctor. They explained it was terminal, the surgeon would not be seeing us as there was no point. We had to go to another hospital and an appointment would be sent to us. Both in tears we walked out of the office through the queues of people waiting for blood tests, and sat in the car. That was July 19th 2017, around 11am.
First thing was an appointment with an oncologist. He promised Scott that he was going to shrink the cancer enough to have a Whipple’s operation, thus giving him longer to live. First thing was chemo, FOLFIRINOX. This was 8 to 12 hours chemo in hospital, followed by 46 hours of the chemo drug at home attached to a PICC line.
Side effects and symptoms
He only managed 2 full sessions of chemo. It made him very, very poorly and sick, but no hair loss. Scott lost so much weight and his mood swings were awful. We have a son who at the time was 9, thankfully he doesn’t remember too much about the mood swings.
Scott couldn’t eat either. He was told to eat full fat everything. He had rice puddings, cream cakes, custard. It was always just 2 mouthfuls. Eating was painful. The dietitians at the hospital ordered him drinks full of protein – they just made him gag.
By this time the cancer was eating away at my husband. He was in so much pain. It had grown around his aorta and was creeping around his heart. He couldn’t stand or lay down. He was taking copious amount of morphine. We were so lucky to have the local hospice nurse, Sophie. She was very calming, honest and informative.
The last few days
On December 22nd 2017 I drove him to the hospice. As soon as I walked in, they took over and were amazing. I was told Scott may not make it through the night. So, I rushed to school, collected Charles and a few overnight things and went back to the hospice.
When we got there Scott had picked up – he had been seriously dehydrated. He could talk and I could see my husband again, not a man full of cancer. His eyes were beautiful and blue, he was smiling. He kind of stayed like this until Boxing Day.
Then my husband rapidly went downhill. He died holding my hand at 7.15 in the evening of December 28th.
I don’t know how I coped, you just do. Now nearly 2 years on, it’s like yesterday sometimes, but more and more it’s a memory that we hold on to as part of our lives. My son is amazing, he’s found ice hockey, that’s been his saviour. My saviour is watching him.