Georgia & Mandy
Georgia shares the story of her mum, Mandy, who passed away less than six months after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Georgia talks about the shock of both Mandy’s diagnosis and at how quickly the cancer took hold.
My mum, Mandy, came back from a holiday of a lifetime in the Maldives with her husband and friends, with some gastroenteritis type illness.
She was quick to ask for medical help
Mum was proactive and booked a GP appointment for her mild symptoms including mild pain below her sternum and in her back and gassy digestion. Upon palpation (pressing) of her upper abdomen, the GP ordered blood tests. Mum’s CA19-9 was over 10,000, which along with other results, sadly confirmed pancreatic cancer.
My mum was 57, healthy, beautiful, active. She didn’t smoke or drink excessively, she was a ‘living life right’ lady. She had an enormous amount to look forward to, the main being becoming a grandparent.
Chemotherapy weakened her and mum wasn’t well enough to complete the course
Mum’s first treatment was chemo, FOLFIRINOX. She only had one round of this before she had to go into hospital with severe ulcerative colitis. This weakened mum considerably. Her oncologist decided to try a more ‘gentle’ chemo in Gemcitabine (Gem) and Abraxane and to only start with the Gem part of the chemo to slowly reintroduce mum to chemo.
Her hair thinned but didn’t fall out completely at this time. Mum never completed a full cycle of Gem/Abraxane as each blood test came back with results showing her liver was beginning to fail. By this time mum had tumours on her pancreas, liver, lung, stomach nodes and now also on her spine, which had broken one of her vertebrae.
It happened so quickly
Mum was admitted to hospital after the cancelled chemo due to the effects on her liver. Her CA19-9 was now over 19,000. She returned home with help from me, our family and district nurses until she went into our local hospice on 14th September. She passed peacefully on 17th September surrounded by those she loved and who love her dearly.
Mum died only 21 weeks after her diagnosis.
This cancer is cruel, painful and fast. More needs desperately to be done on screening and making the tests more reliable. The amount of pain this causes and the fact that there is zero warning until it’s too late surely makes this a cancer to prioritise for research.
A wonderful woman
Mandy Hanbury, the best mother, wife, friend, colleague, neighbour and I promise one day grandmother. She worked over 30 years in the police making our world a better, safer place. I love you mum. She lives within me now.