Trevor was 61 when he was diagnosed with cancer in the head of the pancreas, after having digestive symptoms and becoming jaundiced. He has recently had the Whipple’s procedure, and will also have chemotherapy. Trevor reflects on the emotional impact of his diagnosis and treatments, and how the support he has had from his wife is helping him through this.
I had my gall bladder removed in January of this year, after having problems for the last two years. After a few weeks I felt as though my gall bladder was still present, I was having problems with bloating, nausea, fatigue and loss of appetite. Then one day, in late April, my wife noticed my eyes were yellow. I went to A&E and was admitted immediately.
The diagnosis was a big shock
Two days later I had a CT scan, which revealed a mass in the head of my pancreas.
In that instant my world just collapsed, I became very emotional and just thought ‘I will be dead in three weeks.’
I had an MRI scan the day after, I was dreading it because I thought it would show that I am full of cancer. Unbelievably, the results showed no spread. The tumour was 2 cm and was blocking the common bile duct.
I had a stent fitted to treat my jaundice
I was allowed home and then referred to a consultant at our nearest specialist centre. The consultant was, and continues to be, an inspiration to me. I cannot praise him highly enough.
Unfortunately, after three weeks the stent became blocked, resulting in my being admitted to hospital and treated for sepsis. A new stent was fitted, and they did a fine needle biopsy, however the results were somewhat inconclusive.
The next step was to have a PET scan, which again, to my relief, showed absolutely no spread.
I was able to have an operation to remove the cancer
The consultant deemed I was ideal for the Whipple’s procedure, to surgically remove the tumour and give me the best chance of a successful outcome.
I have never smoked or drunk alcohol. I played sport and had a physical job (I worked 37 years in a coal mine) so I was considered fit for my age.
I had my Whipple’s surgery on the 27th of July, this year. I am presently 4 weeks post op.
The emotional impact of pancreatic cancer has been enormous
I am still coming to terms with the enormity of the operation. I spent 11 days in hospital covered in drips, drains, feeds and a catheter. Slowly they began to be removed and made life slightly more bearable.
There were a few very emotional episodes and the odd feeling of losing hope, but all the while my wife was there to reassure me. I don’t know how I would have coped if she hadn’t been there.
I am slowly making progress
I have been at home since August 13th. Progress to date is slow but satisfactory. I have nurses visiting every few days to assess the wound, which is still sore but manageable with painkillers.
I still feel very tired after any exertion but I am making progress. However, the biggest problem at the moment is dealing with emotion. I am finding it hard to come to terms with what I have been through.
This was compounded when my consultant informed me that when I have recovered sufficiently, I will need to have three months of chemotherapy. This really set me back and I was very close to having a breakdown, but, again my wife was there to convince me we will get through this.
I am feeling better and trying to be positive, but it’s hard going. I am so lucky to have my wife at my side, she has been my Mount Everest.