A young couple in wedding attire flanked by an older couple

Emma & Ian

Ian, a retired firefighter, had always been healthy when he started to get abdominal pain. He was eventually diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer, and sadly had severe side effects from chemotherapy. He chose to stop treatment, and passed away at home, cared for by his family, on his 63rd birthday. His daughter Emma tells their story.


My dad (Ian) started to complain of abdominal pains, sometimes so severe that in April 2020 he was taken via ambulance and admitted into hospital. After blood tests and scans dad was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis.

He had always been healthy, but symptoms were having an impact

Dad, a recently retired firefighter, was baffled when they told him to change his diet and to stop drinking. Dad had always been healthy anyway, but did as he was advised. From being discharged a few days later, dad never touched another drop of alcohol and ditched the sweet and fatty foods, but still the pain didn’t subside.

He went back and forth to the GP and a few tweaks were made to his medication, but he was still complaining of pains in his stomach.

Dad loved bird watching, wildlife and photography, winning many competitions for his stunning pictures at the local photography club. The persistent stomach ache unfortunately stopped him from fulfilling what he loved to do the most.

Tests revealed a mass on the pancreas

In December 2022, following a CT and MRI scan, they noticed a mass on dad’s pancreas, so he went in for a biopsy four days before Christmas. The following day he started to feel unwell, mum called 111 for advice and they sent an ambulance. Dad was admitted again for more tests. He’d got an infection from the biopsy procedure. He was given a drip and oral antibiotics to treat the infection. Dad missed Christmas with his family and was in the hospital until 27th December.

The diagnosis

Friday 6th January 2023. Mum (Denise), dad and dad’s sister Lesley went along to an appointment to get the results of the biopsy. The consultant revealed the devastating news that dad had pancreatic cancer.

He was told lots of information regarding treatments, and contact details for Macmillan nurses, etc. Then he had to wait four weeks for more tests and a decision about if it was operable or not.

Dad had another CT and MRI scan. The results from that were delivered on 3rd February. Unfortunately, it wasn’t operable, but he was offered chemotherapy.

Everything seemed to take so long to get going. Another three weeks went by before his PICC line was inserted. As a family we found this very frustrating and couldn’t understand the long gaps between each step. All while the tumour was growing aggressively.

Starting chemotherapy

Finally, everything was fine for dad to have his first dose of chemo nearly 11 weeks from diagnosis. He’d had discussions with the consultants, and they were giving him three different drugs (FOLFIRINOX).

Nothing is plain sailing, and dad had a reaction to one of the drugs. His throat started to close up, so the nurses looking after him gave him a warm compress around his neck and a warm drink. They reduced the dosage of that drug a lot.

The second drug within the ‘cocktail’, dad was allergic to! He ended up having a life-threatening allergic reaction… the session was terminated. Following this, dad was admitted to the hospital for a couple of days. It wiped dad off his feet completely, he was so poorly.

Dad decided to stop the treatment

Dehydrated, with sickness and unable to keep food down for over 10 days, dad decided himself he didn’t want to try chemotherapy again. On 1st April, dad spoke to his consultant to tell them he didn’t want further treatment.

Within a couple of weeks dad deteriorated. He was no longer able to climb the stairs, so we made him a ‘bedroom’ in the living room. He had the best care from family, he was blessed to have his own qualified nurses within the family (his sister, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, niece and nephew). He was given nothing but the best care.

Dad lost weight rapidly. The palliative care team and the District Nurses that visited daily were amazing, they truly are special people. Dad fought with everything he had, he was unbelievable. He became bed bound from April. But we managed to get him outside in May with his camera and he happily sipped a Guinness 0.0.

He needed relief from symptoms

Dad consented to having a syringe driver fitted in June as his pain was on another level. The District Nurses, his sister and daughter-in-law all explained about the driver and how he would benefit from the constant drip of medication.

The dosages of pain relief dad needed from the driver seemed to jump up daily. We had to call the ‘hospice at home’ team during the night to give additional, urgent doses to make dad comfortable.

Dad started to stare into space, wasn’t bothered about talking. He loved football and wasn’t engaging in conversation about his beloved Preston North End. He suffered from a very dry mouth, we tried everything, but nothing seemed to relieve it for him.

Now in August, dad still hadn’t eaten solid food since March and then went 10 days without any fluids. He’d become so frail he was now unable to reposition himself and had developed a pressure sore, despite having a hospital bed and a pressure mattress. His family became full time carers and took it in turns to sleep over so that we could help him turn over once an hour, and to support mum.

Ian and his grandchildren at the football

We looked after him at home, as he wanted

Dad’s wish was to stay at home so long as we were able to cope. We all pulled together and made that happen for him. He had also signed a ‘do not resuscitate’ order when he began to deteriorate.

Dad passed away on 11th August, his 63rd birthday, surrounded by all his family. He truly was amazing, inspirational, how he fought such a cruel devastating disease. We are totally privileged to have had 8 months with dad since diagnosis. I just wish it was longer! He was taken far too soon!!!

Rest in peace dad, you are missed and loved every single day, by everyone!

11.08.1960 ~ 11.08.2023 ❤️


February 2024