Mother and daughter standing with arms around each other wearing brightly coloured dresses for a summer wedding


Coral was diagnosed in 2020 with pancreatic cancer, she was 76 years old. She had a Whipple's procedure but wasn't well enough for chemotherapy. Coral shares her story.


My diagnosis journey

My journey started at COVID lockdown on 23 March 2020. I developed excessive itching all over my body, and lost lots of sleep due to this. I tried various things before contacting my GP a few weeks later. I was prescribed antihistamines, but these did not work. Following a telephone appointment, they thought I had a urine infection. I gave a specimen and was told there was no infection. I still had the itching problem and was very jaundiced and was losing weight. A urine test again came back negative for infection and so a blood test was arranged. I received an immediate response to tell me I had a liver problem with too much bilirubin in my blood.

I was told I had a blocked bile duct

In June 2020 I was referred for a CT scan, following which I was informed I had a blocked bile duct. A stent was to be inserted during an endoscopy procedure. During this procedure, a malignant tumour on my pancreas was discovered. I was referred to the hospital to find out what my options were.

At the appointment with my Consultant’s registrar, my daughter with me, we had the options explained and I agreed to a Whipple’s procedure. We weren’t given any leaflets about this so that we could digest what was to happen.

Waiting for surgery

Having been in isolation since March, I was advised to go on the emergency register in case of anyone cancelling their operation and was advised to continue in self-isolation until called.

I was admitted on 23 August 2020 for the operation, but it didn’t take place because there were concerns about my liver. I was sent home on 26 August following a number of liver biopsies. After having more scans to check the cancer hadn’t spread, I had the Whipple’s surgery on 29 September 2020 and was discharged on 10 October 2020.

I’ve experienced bowel problems

I had bowel problems throughout my hospitalisation, and these continued after discharge and to this day. I had also lost a lot of weight, and because of my low weight and bowel problems it was decided that I wouldn’t be able to have chemotherapy.

My weight has increased now but I do still have bowel problems, which can be challenging and I struggle with fatigue.

My life since the operation

As you can see in my photo, I attended my granddaughter’s wedding on a beautiful sunny day last year. I’ve also welcomed my first great granddaughter, (I already have 5 great grandsons!) and another great granddaughter is due next year. How lucky am I! I’ve been able to enjoy socialising with my friends at the golf club, mostly only tea and cake but will have the odd carvery meal when I’m well enough. And I get to enjoy our family BBQs, which are good fun.