“It was so sad that the symptoms were missed, and that within three weeks of diagnosis, she was receiving end-of-life care in a hospice.”
“My mother was devoted to my father. He had had a slow-growing blood cancer for many years and sadly died during the first lockdown in April 2020. Mum’s focus in the months leading up to his death was very much on looking after him."
“A few months later, Mum developed a tumour on her breast and had treatment for breast cancer. It was caught early: she had radiotherapy, the tumour was removed, and all seemed to be well.
“After this treatment, she started feeling very tired, lost some weight and mentioned some digestive problems. We obviously all noticed but because the focus had been on her breast cancer, the doctors understandably put these symptoms down to everything that she’d been through. Not only had she had cancer, but she’d experienced a bereavement in the middle of lockdown, losing the person closest to her. She was also in her early 80s and had experienced a few digestive problems from time to time in recent years. She wasn’t able to eat much rich food anymore and had to be careful with fruit and vegetables.
“Unusual tiredness is apparently a classic side effect of radiotherapy, so no one really thought anything of it initially. It was only when Mum started to experience some of the more alarming pancreatic cancer symptoms, such as jaundice, white stools, and unbearable itching that she called 111 (in March 2022), described her symptoms and was advised to go straight to the local hospital and have some tests, which sadly came too late.
“It was tragic that by the time the pancreatic cancer was spotted, it was too late for surgery or any other treatment. It was so sad that the symptoms were missed, and that within three weeks of diagnosis, she was receiving end-of-life care in a hospice. Mum was amazingly accepting and peaceful, but the speed at which it all happened felt incredibly cruel.
“Mum had a strong sense of social justice and the desire to make a difference. She was an active member of her local church, leading groups, and volunteering at the coffee bar. She volunteered as a prison visitor in Lewes, where she lived. Since her death, neighbours and friends in the local community have commented on how valued she was. Our whole family has missed her every day.”