Ellen & Tony

Ellen's story of caring for her partner Tony, who was diagnosed with operable pancreatic cancer in 2013.

1 May 2014

My partner, Tony, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August 2013. Although we have not lived together for 12 years I had already supported him through periods of severe depression and a TIA (mini stroke). It seemed natural, therefore, that I should help again now.

Diagnosis and treatment

Of course the diagnosis was a shock but we were encouraged by the fact that the tumour, at the head of the pancreas had been picked up on a routine scan for bowel cancer. He has these every two years as both his father and brother had been sufferers of bowel cancer. This meant that the condition was operable.

We were referred from our local hospital to the specialist hospital nearby. The surgeon there booked him in for surgery on 17th October and removed half of the pancreas and the spleen. He was in hospital for a week and went to stay with his brother (who is in remission from bowel cancer). Having someone around who has been there and done it was a godsend, and he was able to help me encourage Tony who did become quite negative and depressed for a week or so.

The post op recovery was remarkable and although Tony was sore and tired for a few weeks, he soon started to look forward. We tried to do every day things whilst we waited for the chemo dates.

The chemo mop up started on 31st December 2013 and Tony was quite upset and nervous on the day. The staff at the hospital were wonderful and he soon got used to it. He was told that he needed to have 6 months of chemo, with 3 weeks on and then a week off. The chemo treatment is also part of trial and he is taking tablets for the weeks he is on chemo. He can now be seen encouraging new patients on their first visit.

The effects of treatment

All of the possible side effects were explained and of course, we were worried.

We are now more than half way through the chemo. Tony has had no side effects apart from feeling a little tired the day after treatment.

The big difference is he is now an insulin dependent diabetic but this in now well under control. He is also taking long term antibiotics as he has lost his spleen.

There have been very many ups and downs but at present we are feeling positive and carrying on with life as usual. He still loves a pint on a Sunday lunchtime and unfortunately hasn’t been cured of being a Coventry City supporter. Some things never change!

We have found that keeping a sense of humour and the support of Helen, his cancer nurse specialist, have been the key when things are a bit tough.

We are keenly looking forward the last chemo session which will be on 3rd June.

May 2014