I was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer on December 4th 2012. I remember it like it was yesterday. The day was Tuesday it was raining and I was in my local hospital where I had been since Sunday 2nd December.
I'd had an Hysterectomy in February of the same year and after surgery coupled with a twelve week recovery time I decided I was going to slim down, get fit and enjoy the rest of my life...wrong...my body had other ideas.
In approximately June 2012, I started with unexplainable stomach pains, so I went along to see my GP. Before my hysterectomy I had to take powerful drugs to try and stop me bleeding. I'd been bleeding from September 2011 right up until I had the hysterectomy in February, so naturally I presumed the stomach pains evolved from having to take these drugs. Perhaps they had seriously upset the lining of my stomach and my GP came to think along the same lines, he also went down the path of 'could be' allergic reaction to Gluten .....unbelievable, so he gave me Omeprazole in the hope it would soon settle down. It didn't. My GP then sent me to have an Ultra Scan, but that came back clear. The stomach pains still persisted. By now I was in terrible pain and come October, when I couldn't get an appointment with my normal GP, I went to see another GP in the surgery. I was unable to eat, sleep and I'd lost a stone in weight in just over three weeks. Something wasn't right. I was also experiencing very strange coloured poo, it was yellow....after relating all this information to the GP he still just sent me away with some more tablets. I was absolutely in agony. At no stage in my visit to see my GP was I given a basic blood test or urine test......
Sunday December 2nd, I awoke and felt really ill. My husband was shocked to see my skin was completely yellow and my wee looked completely toxic, so we went along to the Walk-in centre, who in turn sent me straight to my local hospital, were I was admitted within the half hour.
After a couple of tests, it was confirmed I had jaundice and diabetes....PHEW! Is that all, I could cope with that. Having said that, the nurse said if I'd left myself any longer without being seen by the medical profession, I was close to being in a diabetic coma. Two days later after a CT scan, December 4th the hospital Gastroenterologist doctor broke the news, I had a 6cm tumour in my pancreas. I didn't even know where in my body the pancreas was, what was a pancreas?.....I laughed, this wasn't happening to me, I told him he must be wrong, he assured me he wasn't. I said okay, well when can it be cut out, he said it was inoperable and they would do their best to keep me pain free. The doctor gave me until Christmas 2012, approximately 20 days.....
Pain free, what the hell was he talking about, pain free, I want the blasted thing cut out. In 2007 I was diagnosed with DCIS - Ductal Carcinoma In Situ - I had a mastectomy and was now cancer free, so all they need to do is cut this tumour out and I will be cancer free again. I couldn't understand what he was talking about. Was he saying I was going to die? I can't die, I haven't got the time to die, I've too much living to do.
I phoned my husband, he came with his mum and dad. We couldn't believe what was happening, this silly doctor says I'm going to die. We asked to speak with the doctor together. Steve came to sit with me, whilst the doctor told us both that nothing could be done, but I would be looked after and kept pain free. I wanted to scream the place down. I wanted to scream "You stupid doctor, how dare you tell me there's nothing can be done for me" ....slowly it began to sink in. I would be leaving my darling 21year old daughter without a mother when she would probably need me the most. My darling loving husband of 29 years, we were retiring together, we were going to live until old age with grand children on our knees. This isn't how it should be. One of the medical team from the Gastro doctor's unit asked me if I was going to try Chemotherapy, I didn't know anything about it, I hadn't been told, thank God for that lady, she gave my notes to the Oncologist.
Biopsies were taken and I was referred to the Oncologist.
I went home three days later and Christmas came and went in a blur, along with New Year. So what would 2013 hold for me? But, I was still alive.
I kept waiting for the results of the biopsy. I kept phoning the hospital, but nothing was forthcoming. Eventually I was told they were looking into the possibility that the tumour had come in as a secondary to the breast cancer, but I kept telling them, it was impossible, because I had been given the all clear and all the lymph nodes were clear, plus it was DCIS not breast cancer, but they persisted. So it wasn't until they sent more samples away to be stained that they eventually told me I had a rare cancer called Squamous Cell Carcinoma which had come into the pancreas as a primary cancer....it was now February and time was marching on.
At last on March 1st I was given the first sets of chemotherapy - Cisplatin and Gemcitabine. The problem now is the tumour has spread into my liver. In my first CT scan - December- the tumour was still contained within the Pancreas...did the delay cause the spread? Who knows, but it certainly will not have helped. I was under the impression I would be able to have chemotherapy and radiotherapy, now I have been told I will not be able to have radiotherapy because of the spread to the liver. I went for a second opinion at Christies hospital in Manchester. They confirmed I am on the correct treatment with the chemo, but there's no miracle operation, no miracle drugs for me, all I have been told is 'IF' the Chemo works to either shrink the tumour or at least stop it growing, I could possibly live one year, if it doesn't work, I could have a few months....
I won't even be able to see my daughter graduate from University in two years from now. This cancer is robbing me of ever seeing grand children. It's robbing my daughter of a mother, my husband of his wife.
I'll keep fighting, I'll still keep looking into ways of living longer, I want to prove them wrong. I want the tumour to shrink and maybe then it could be operable. I'll keep asking for any help from any specialist I can. I won't give up, I can't give up.
I'm just so annoyed to think that pancreatic cancer cannot be detected until it seems to be too late. Why is it breast cancer and prostate cancer are always in the news, but pancreatic cancer is never spoken about? It's about time GPs started to look into family history. My father died of stomach cancer, his two sons died of stomach cancer, maybe if this had been known, my cancer could have been detected sooner....who knows?
To date, my tumour has reduced in size from 49mm to 33mm and my next CT scan is on August 30th. I live in hope it may have reduced again...... I have now finished my Chemo and whilst I feel pleased that it is over, I'm also very scared that I am now without my safety blanket.