a man sitting on a sofa holding a cup of tea and a muffin with a candle in it - Phil

Alice & Phil

Alice's dad, Phil, died four months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was 53. Alice reflects on her dad's zest for life and his determination to make the best of things.

All my life my dad was active and enjoyed the outdoors. I vividly remember watching him in outdoor water swimming events and having weekends packed with sporting activities. Dad had a love for life and passion for spreading positivity and capturing everyone with his outlook on life. My dad had three children aged 30, 27 and 11. I would often describe him as the real-life Peter Pan as he never wanted to grow up and remained the life and soul of the party!

During COVID-19 lockdowns he developed a love for cycling and ended up training all hours of the day in his garage. His passion grew further when he entered numerous cycling challenges and completed a 205-mile race across the UK which he came fourth in (only because he stopped for tea and cake!).

He began to get symptoms

In September 2021 he began to complain of lower back pain for which he sought physiotherapy support. He believed it was a slipped disk. A month later, his fatigue levels grew, lower abdominal pain started, and he gained a yellow tinge to his skin. He was admitted to hospital to investigate his jaundice and numerous tests/scans began.

Chemotherapy wasn’t possible

On October 25th 2021, my eldest sister and I were informed he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In my naivety I hoped an operation would happen and chemotherapy would start immediately. My dad then stated his cancer was stage four incurable and had been given a life span of 3-6 months. The consultant spoke about potential spreads and the option of chemotherapy due to dad’s age and fitness levels. We eagerly prepped and planned chemotherapy appointments hoping we would be able to prolong his life but sadly due to multiple low platelet levels and urgent hospital admissions chemotherapy wasn’t possible.

His positive spirit did not fade

Soon after our family’s hopes and dreams of dad having life extending treatment were over and we were given hospice leaflets and nurse specialists for home care. Throughout this time my dad’s infectious positive spin on this devastating situation did not deter. We all ‘polished the turd’ (as dad would say) by enjoying reminiscing about our favourite songs together and ensuring his bucket list came true. He got married in his beautiful home county of Suffolk after a mad two-week planning session, he had trips to his favourite pubs and his family and friends visited often.

The cancer progressed

Within weeks his mobility deteriorated significantly, he was reliant on walking aids and his pain increased. After a consultant meeting, we were informed of multiple spreads across his body. The cancer was now attacking his liver, bones and lungs.

On February 13th 2022, at the age of 53, four months post-diagnosis my dad died. His courageous and brave battle ended at home surrounded by loved ones. We were supported by hospice at home care who treated him with the upmost dignity and respect.

Coping with the loss of dad

I have never experienced a loss of a close family member nor a cancer diagnosis of a loved one. As I am writing this, I am now one year on since the death of my dad. I am still horrified at the statistics surrounding the testing and prognosis of pancreatic cancer. I am determined to improve the awareness and understanding around ‘the silent killer’ that is pancreatic cancer.

I am eternally grateful for the 26 years I have had with my dad on this planet; his memory and zest for life will continue to live through my family and me. One thing that always springs to mind when I think of Dad is his slogan, ‘because I can’ because why the hell not seize the day?!

I love you to the stars and back, Dad.