Clarice & Lee

Clarice shares the story of her Dad, Lee, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when he was 47

6 February 2020

On Boxing Day 2017 my father started with extreme bloating and discomfort, and we put it down to eating excessively over Christmas.

This carried on over the New Year, so at the beginning of January he went to the doctors who prescribed him with Buscopan and put it down to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). The pain continued resulting in him once again visiting his doctor who referred him for an ultrasound scan.

Nothing was found but dad was still in excruciating pain and discomfort, he was referred for a camera down the throat which found nothing. He was then referred for a colonoscopy which all come back normal.

Getting a diagnosis

During this time he had several visits to the hospital. He was booked to have a MRI scan on the Monday, but he couldn’t stand the waiting and pain any longer. We went to see his consultant without any appointment, he was happy to see him and we spoke about dads test results and he explained they were all normal.

He sent dad to STU (Surgical Triage Unit) where they would do full blood test, urine etc. Later that afternoon he was told he would be staying in the night and referred for his MRI scan that evening.

It was the early hours of Saturday 16th March 2018 when the doctors woke my dad up at around 4am to give him the unfortunate news he had pancreatic cancer and cancer in his lymph nodes. We were then left until Monday morning with not enough information or a doctor who specified with the pancreas.

Making plans for chemotherapy

On the Monday dad had several visits from doctors and nurses who spoke about the diagnosis and the next steps. It was arranged for dad to start chemotherapy in the next 2 weeks – we had mentioned to the doctor our worry that in the 2 weeks this could spread further, but he reassured us that in 2 weeks this wouldn’t be likely.

In the 2 weeks dad really deteriorated and had a couple of visits to the hospital. As his chemotherapy date arrived he had a hospital visit and was admitted for fluid drains. It was later discovered that the cancer had spread to the liver, lungs, kidney and bones. To say we were absolutely devastated is an understatement. We had built so much hope to dad receiving his chemotherapy and this knocked us down completely.

Dad was not ready to give up and he built his fight up! He started chemotherapy shortly after a new plan was put into place, and after 3 months of chemotherapy we received brilliant news. The cancer from the bones had gone! And all tumours had shrunk by 50%, it was working! We were absolutely ecstatic!

The last few weeks

Dad had a short break before his second half of chemotherapy. During this break he took very poorly. He had shortness of breath and would sleep most of the day, he was diagnosed with pneumonia and was hospitalised and given oxygen. He took a turn for the worse during this time. He was discharged from hospital and was back in an ambulance 1 hour later.

Due to there being no bed for him, they put him into medical room where they drained the fluid from his lungs. He was sent home then returned the following day, on the Friday. He was kept in until the Sunday when he was sent home. He then returned early hours of the Monday morning.

We were told to go home and get some rest as he was comfortable and asleep with a double dose of morphine. We left the hospital and a bus drove past us, so we went back to check and at this point doctors were around dad and asking for all his family to come.

It was the evening of Monday 27th August 2018 he fell to sleep and gained his angel wings.

From the day of diagnosis to dad gaining his angel wings it was just 1 week under 6months – which the doctor gave him the expectancy of 6 months. It’s absolutely heart breaking and not a day goes by we do not think or miss him.

February 2020