Bob, diagnosed in 2009 with inoperable pancreatic cancer

Jayne tells the story, in her own words, of the journey that led to her dad’s diagnosis for pancreatic cancer from which he sadly died in January 2010.

In memory of Bob: 1934-2010

Bob & Jayne, Christmas 2009
Bob & Jayne, Christmas 2009

In June 2001, Dad was admitted to Lancaster Royal Infirmary after his skin began to itch and blister and he had red pee. It also reacted really badly in the sun. He put it down to some industrial strength bleach he had bought and used without gloves, but I knew then that something wasn’t right. The pee he put down to eating beetroot! Anyway, after a week in hospital, they told him that he had Porphyria. Over the coming months he had to send off samples of his poo (very, very pale yellow – think baby poo) and had Vitamin B12 injections three monthly. He suffered night sweats and fevers, again put down to something else, a water infection and his appetite dwindled slowly but surely. He went from a man who loved to come for his Sunday dinner to someone who barely enjoyed his food.

We lost Mum to heart failure in November 2001 and shortly afterwards Dad moved back to Keighley. A few months into 2002, he got really depressed, to the extent that I called our family GP out. He took one look at him and basically  told him to pull himself together, Doreen (my Mum) wouldn’t want to see him like it! I was so angry at that, but what could I do? Dad respected him too much as a family friend and medical professional to question it and he got on with life.

A year or two passed and then in about 2006 his face began to swell up alarmingly. After several rounds of antibiotics, he was referred to a maxillofacial surgeon in Bradford, who operated and found a foreign object embedded in his cheek lining! This is when things started to go downhill at an alarming rate; he constantly complained that his face was tight and pulling, he wasn’t eating much at all and went to 10 st within weeks from being a healthy 12 st 10 lbs for years. No amount of anti inflammatory drugs (Gabapentin and Amitriptyline at one point) as well as painkillers (Co-Codamol) would take the edge off and he started staying in bed until dinner time, not going out as much (He was an active member of a local male voice choir; he stopped going) and eventually not at all. I began to do all his shopping, cleaning (something he had always done and took pride in his home) and washing for him. He even stopped bathing and shaving.

Joseph (my grandson) was born October 6th 2009 and of course he wanted to see him. So, a week after he was born, we took him. I knew immediately that something was drastically wrong, Dad’s eyes were tinged with yellow and he confessed that his pee was brown.

I rang the emergency doctor and she came out to him. He rang to say that he had to go to hospital that evening for tests. I left him on the General Admittance ward to be assessed and dreaded what we were to hear. However, the following day he told us at visiting that it wasn’t what we all feared, it was probably gallstones, but he was having an endoscopy the next day for investigation. That brought up what the doctor described as “sludge” at the end of his bile duct, so he put a stent in and we all breathed a sigh of relief…until Dad had an MRI!

He rang to say that it was terminal, there was nothing they could do; he had been told this, alone, with the specialist in the most blunt way possible. I was devastated! As a single Mum of two girls, he was the mainstay in our lives, what about my girls wedding; who would give them away? Joseph, who would guide him, teach him about history and nature?

Eleven short weeks later he was gone, he deteriorated overnight. He called me at 7.30am, barely able to breathe, I knew that that was an end stage after the support worker from Sue Ryder has explained it to me. Our GP came out and said that it was a chest infection, but a bad one from which he may not recover; but I think we both knew that this was it. By 3.45pm, my lovely Dad passed away in Manorlands and left us well and truly bereft.