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Carl L

Posted by: Carl L 24 January 2020

Carl was diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2014, when he was 43, and had surgery to remove the cancer.

The doctors found a mass on my pancreas quite by chance. I didn't have any symptoms at the time. No pain, nausea, jaundice or weight loss, nothing. I was at my peak fitness level.

I collapsed in my local Tesco one morning with back pain (totally unrelated – it was a muscle spasm). The staff insisted on calling an ambulance. They scanned me at the hospital and found the mass. The doctor who told me looked at me as if I only had minutes left to live.

At first, they told me it was a cyst. They did a biopsy, which was inconclusive. My consultant gave me two choices: leave it where it is and scan every six months, or remove it. My immediate reaction was to go in and remove it.

The surgery occurred exactly six years ago today, Friday 17th January 2014. I had a partial pancreatectomy (removing part of the pancreas) and a full splenectomy (removing the spleen).

After my surgery

I saw my consultant two weeks later after my surgery. He told me that they had removed a cancerous mass from the tail end of my pancreas. He said that it had been there for at least two years. Fortunately, it was one of the least aggressive types and they had been able to successfully remove it all in one go. Even more fortunate, it hadn’t spread elsewhere!

My consultant explained that due to the non-aggressive nature of the cancer, I wouldn’t need any further treatment. Just Penicillin (an antibiotic) twice a day for the rest of my life to support having no spleen.

I had the usual scans, twice a year for the first two years, then once a year for the last three. I had my last scan on 10th October 2019. My discharge letter arrived on Saturday 11th January 2020, informing me that the final scan was clear and that there had been ‘no recurrence of disease’.

Coping with my diagnosis and treatment

It has been a very emotional six years. Not just for me, but for everyone close to me. I had therapy through a cancer charity for two years. That helped enormously. I can’t begin to tell you the power of talking to a stranger.

Six years on

So here I am, six years on, feeling like the luckiest boy in the world! At least, that’s what everyone else calls me. I have read the survival statistics. Not happy reading for anyone.

I feel like I really shouldn’t be here if that make sense? I have just tried to take each day as it comes. Sure, every little twinge or pain is always going to be the worse-case scenario, and I don’t think those kinds of thoughts will ever leave me. I have had, and continue to have, amazing support from loved ones, family and friends.

I am due to celebrate my 50th birthday in July. I had serious doubts about getting there. I cannot wait to celebrate!

I hope that my story helps at least one person in similar circumstances.

17th January 2020

Read more about coping with pancreatic cancer

Read more about recovering from surgery