Two women, one young and one older, pose for a selfie

Sarah & Diane

Sarah’s mum, Di, began to feel unwell six months before she sadly passed away from pancreatic cancer, which had spread to the stomach. She was 64. Sarah and her family are raising awareness of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer, and she talks about her mum’s strength in the face of her diagnosis.


My mum had a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes in June 2022 and was prescribed metformin to help manage it. She started to feel unwell in late August that year, and after an appointment with her GP she stopped taking metformin.

Her symptoms got worse

She continued to feel unwell, suffering abdomen pain, bloating and taking lots of painkillers and indigestion remedies.

On 24th September she was taken to the local hospital outpatients’ department by my little brother, as the pain and discomfort had become too much for her. The doctors were surprised by the mass that was visible in her abdomen. After various tests it was discovered that she had stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Breaking the news it was terminal pancreatic cancer

My mum kept this to herself until all the family could be there with her in the surgeon’s office. Unable to tell us herself, the surgeon broke the news that she had cancer, and that due to the tumour size and her symptoms she had 6 months at most to live. We now know that we would never have got 6 months. All of our lives were completely turned upside down at that point.

She had so much courage

The bravery my mum had was just amazing. She never let it get to her, even when she just had no luck.

Chemotherapy was not an option for her. The tumour began to block her stomach and started to spread quickly. She managed to cope with the pain, but the nausea was debilitating. After a short stay in hospital to try and get the nausea under control, we discovered that she only had weeks to live.

We supported her to live well to the end of her life

She returned home on 21st October and myself and my sisters looked after her, with support from the local district nurses and Marie Curie, until she passed at home on the 1st November 2022 at 04.07, surrounded by her family and in the home she loved.

The bravery she showed was so humbling, at 64 she felt she was blessed to have seen her children grow up and to become a grandparent. We had been able to enjoy a family afternoon tea and she enjoyed a day trip to Beamish which is something she was desperate to do.

Living our lives without mum

In the end we just ran out of time, which I think is common in pancreatic cancer. We feel that we have been cheated of time with her. My dad really struggles as they were both due to retire next year and had so many plans together.

As a family are we just trying to get through life one day at a time, missing her immensely and finding it hard to come to terms with the speed at which it all happened.

Myself and other family members have begun to fundraise in memory of my mum, completing the 28 mile challenge this February and just trying to raise awareness. I want to share her story as she would be delighted to think she may help anyone reading it. She was the most selfless person.


February 2023