Cath was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer in 2011

Cath (right) and her daughter Sarah

Cath (right) and her daughter Sarah

Sadly, Cath passed away on 5th July 2014 after a long battle. Cath was an inspiration to all who knew her and supported many who were touched by the disease via Facebook. 

Hi, My name is Cath and I am here to tell you my story.

I am 60 years old, have two wonderful children and two fantastic grandchildren.  My life was going along nicely until November 2010 when I started to feel not quite myself.

I suddenly became very tired with no energy and feeling generally unwell. In January 2011, I was admitted into hospital with what was thought to be a viral infection – I couldn’t stop running to the toilet and had pain in my upper abdomen. I was given antibiotics and sent home after five days.

After three weeks I returned to work but still not feeling ‘right’ as I put it, and then started to go downhill again. I lost two stone in weight and suffered a nervous breakdown.

After another six weeks off work I kept going back to my GPs, explaining my symptoms: feeling sick, bloating after eating and this awful tiredness. My GP kept saying it was colitis (inflammation of the colon), which I had had for 11 years. However, I knew different, that these weren’t the symptoms of colitis.

Eventually I was sent to see my gastroenterologist. He also said it was my colitis, nut to be sure, he sent me for a CT scan and endoscopy which came back normal. I was told they would do a follow-up CT scan in three months time. During that time I kept on visiting my GPs. I was given anti-sickness tablets and once again sent home.

In September 2011 I returned for a follow-up CT scan. A week later I was contacted to go to the specialist as the scan revealed something on my lung. I was then sent for a PET scan to look for cancer cells. At the beginning of October 2011 I went for the results and was told that no cancer cells had shown up on my lung but cells were showing up on my pancreas.  At that moment my son, daughter and myself froze.

I was told that they had found it early as it was just over 2cm in size. I then had a more detailed scan followed by an appointment to see the oncologist. That was the day my world fell apart. I was told that the tumour in the pancreas was attached to two veins and was inoperable.

I went into shock as did my family. I knew all too well what this meant and all I could see in front of me was my dearly loved brother who had passed away three years earlier with the same cancer.

It had taken over ten months of seeing GPs and specialists before I got a diagnosis. This is far too long – the government should be made more aware of this deadly cancer. The GPs should be on the ball and not keep putting these symptoms of pancreatic cancer down to other things. Both my GP and my gastroenterologist specialist couldn’t say sorry enough and my GP actually had tears in her eyes and apologised for not taking me more seriously.

Much much too late to say sorry – this was my life that had been destroyed, not theirs.

I am having chemo at the moment and I am trying to stay positive. My time spent with my children and grandchildren has become very precious.  I haven’t had time to feel angry, I just hope that this cancer gets more coverage and more money to research into it for a quicker diagnosis and for future generations.

This silent killer has gone on far too long without recognition – this has to CHANGE.

Thank you for listening to my story.

Cath, February 2012