Peter, 58, was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer in 2018
In April 2018 I ran the Stafford Half Marathon in 2 hours and 25 minutes, slightly quicker than my time for the same race in 2017. At 58 years of age I felt this was a quite an achievement. I generally ran about 25 miles per week and was a member of a running club.
Since Christmas I felt that I was suffering from a re-occurring chest infection and started to feel more breathless when running. In May, I felt the breathlessness was increasing and my energy levels weren’t quite the same.
Going to my GP
I visited my GP on 29th May 2018 and I was prescribed antibiotics. Five days later I appeared to be jaundiced and was becoming very tired. I thought this could be a side effect of taking antibiotics.
I spoke to my GP over the phone and he arranged for me to have a chest x-ray the same day. I continued working that week as a member of the facilities team for Stoke City Football Club but I was getting more jaundiced and feeling weaker.
At the end of the week I rang the doctor’s receptionist for the x-ray results and was really surprised when she told me the x-ray was clear. I obviously felt unwell and made another appointment to see the doctor. He arranged liver function blood tests and an ultrasound scan within three days.
Getting a diagnosis
The ultrasound scan identified stones in my gall bladder and an obstruction by the pancreas.
I was referred to a gastroconsultant who said that he was concerned that the obstruction might be pancreatic cancer. He arranged a CT scan for the next day.
On 22nd June my wife, daughter and I were told that I had inoperable pancreatic cancer with possibly only months to live. Our whole world has been turned upside down. We were totally shocked and devastated.
Beginning my treatment
On 26th June I had a stent fitted to relieve the jaundice. By now I’d lost a stone in weight and was struggling with my appetite. I was prescribed steroids to increase my appetite.
Following a PET scan it was confirmed that the cancer was in the head of the pancreas, the bile duct, the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) and the ampulla of Vater.
My oncologist was impressed with my determination and positive attitude to fight this disease. My previous fitness level and my age has been taken into account and I have now been offered six cycles of chemotherapy (FOLFIRINOX) followed by a scan and then a further six cycles.
This chemotherapy will start on 13th August 2018. All the risks and possible side effects have been explained to me but I am so up for the first fight to battle this cancer and spend more time with my lovely family and friends.
Update December 2018
The last 5 months have definitely been a roller coaster. I have had two blood clots, two hospital admissions (due to infections) but I have now completed six cycles of FOLFIRINOX chemotherapy and now awaiting a CT Scan to see how things have progressed.
Update January 2019
After eight cycles of FOLFIRINOX chemotherapy, my oncologist feels that this treatment “has now done all it is going to do”.
A CT scan has revealed the tumour has increased very slightly in size, and I have a small lesion on my liver. He has advised trying a new chemotherapy treatment (Gemcitabine together with Abraxane) for four cycles, and then a further CT scan.
He considers the cancer to be “stable” and hopefully this new treatment will stop any further growth.
I am still feeling quite well in myself and as positive as always. New treatment just another challenge.
Update June 2019
On 30th January 2019 I had my first session of my new chemotherapy – Gemcitabine and Abraxane.
After 6 sessions I had an MRI scan. The results were positive, with some of the lesions in my liver reducing in size, and others disappearing completely. The main tumour had increased very slightly but my cancer markers had dropped.
My oncologist was happy with these results and prescribed 3 more cycles of chemo and a further scan at the end of June.
On 25th April I attended an appointment to discuss possible clinical trials. A sample of my tumour has now been sent to America for molecular testing. If the tumour contains certain cell mutations, I may be suitable to take part in an on-going trial – fingers crossed!
With the on-going support of Blythe Bridge Running Club, along with my family and friends, the total raised for Pancreatic Cancer UK now stands at £11,833 (just brilliant!).
Sonya (my sister) recently raised £540 by holding a clothes sale, cake sale and raffle. My nephew, Peter, is taking part in a 100 mile Bike Ride – ‘Prudential Ride London to Surrey’ – in August, and my work colleague from Stoke City Football Club, Stefan, is organising for himself and some friends to take part in the ‘The Wild Warrior Extreme 10K Mud Run in September 2019.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story, my aim is to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer and encourage people to listen to their bodies more closely. Do not ignore any messages that your body sends you, stay healthy and take care of yourself.