Hannah Preston tells the emotional story of her father’s battle with pancreatic cancer.
My dad Malcolm Ernest Fallows, aged 66, lost his battle against this cruel illness on the 7th May 2016. He was a wonderful husband, dad to myself and my sister Beck and the best granddad to our children Harry, Thomas, Charlie, Freddie, Alex and Jamie.
He was a music teacher and an inspiration to many. This illness is ruthless and has taken a truly wonderful man who still had so much left to give. He had just completed a production of Sister Act, where he was musical director in November 2015 when he started to feel a little over tired with back discomfort. He had seen a GP previously with epigastric pain and OGD, shortly after this confirmed a hiatus hernia and he started on treatment for this, in September.
The GP examined dad and put it down to tiredness due to his show. He rested but his pain continued and he started to go off his food, which was unheard of, we loved sharing good meals together. In early December he was diagnosed with insulin dependant diabetes and this alone was a shock, the thought of having to inject insulin every day felt alien to him and was unsettling. Just to be on the safe side, it was decided he would have a CT scan.
The worst ground shaking news followed shortly after what we now know was our last Christmas together. On January 5th, Dad not only had a 4cm tumour at the head of his pancreas, but also liver metastasis. It was like our world collapsed in that small room, we were all devastated. My dad, always the optimist, was determined to fight this. He was informed that due to the spreading and position of the tumour, surgery was not an option. We were referred to Christies following the biopsy results.
The Christies were fabulous and dad was offered a trial chemo which combined Abraxane with Gemcitabine.
It was a tough ride with a hospital admission due to sepsis and then a little later a flare up of intense pain due to pancreatitis. At the 3 month mark, dad had another scan and the news was more positive. The tumour had shrunk and things were looking positive.
He still felt weak though but with this great news. He decided to treat my mum to a little holiday, just Southport, but he booked the best hotel and room. Whilst there, he had a terrible flare up of pain and gas to be taken by ambulance to Southport hospital; from there he was transferred to the Liverpool Royal pancreatic unit. His CT had revealed more devastating news, although his tumour was smaller, part of his pancreas had become necrosed and he had an aneurysm to his splenic artery which was leaking .
More bad news and he was heart broken we all were. Yet the consultant there, who was very thorough, didn’t want to give up hope and he started dad on more IV antibiotics. I left his bedside at 4.15pm on the 6th May. I didn’t know this would be the last time I would see him otherwise I would never have left. At 11.30 I texted him to say I loved him and he sent one right back. Thirty minutes later my mum received a call saying he had deteriorated. My poor dad had a cardiac arrest and resuscitation was unsuccessful .
His battle was over. Despite his tough hard battle, once again pancreatic cancer took another person. This time it was my dad and that’s why I want to share his story. I never want anyone else to go through this horror. I want to do what I can to make sure early diagnosis of this disease is at the forefront of every GP and health worker’s minds. My dad was an inspiration to many and I, along with my mum sister and family, will miss him terribly. His death came far too soon and I don’t want it to be in vain – I want to help others to avoid this in the future.