Our founder, Ali Stunt
Meet our founder
Ali Stunt is a pancreatic cancer survivor, wife, mother and the founder of PCA. But above all else, she’s a fierce advocate for pancreatic cancer patients around the globe.
Since 2010, she has devoted her life to improving early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, which has just a 7.9% five-year survival rate in the UK, and she’s considered an expert thought leader by doctors, scientists and politicians in the UK and abroad.
In 2007, having accepted a place from Imperial College, London to pursue a PhD in stable isotope cosmochemistry (which included the study of meteorites), Ali was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
When Ali received her diagnosis, she was just 41 years old. In that moment, her world turned upside down. But it wasn’t just her world she had to think about – as she shares her life with her husband Phil, two sons James and Nick and her two dogs, Betty and Elsie.
Plagued for months by ambiguous symptoms such as mid-back pain, pain when eating and changes in bowel habits, her doctor initially thought she had gallstones.
In reality, she was mere weeks away from being too late for life-saving surgery to remove her pancreas. It was only because of a last-minute referral via her husband’s private medical insurance that ultimately saved her life.
After undergoing a ‘distal pancreatectomy’ and ‘splenectomy’ where 80% of the pancreas and all of the spleen is removed, Ali received six months of combination chemotherapy and then six weeks of chemo-radiotherapy treatment.
But thousands more won’t be so lucky. And that’s why Ali founded Pancreatic Cancer Action in 2010, one of the leading UK pancreatic cancer charities that focus specifically on early diagnosis.
Ali is currently in the 1% of people who survive pancreatic cancer beyond 10 years, and it’s a lonely place to be. It’s figures such as this that put the fire in her belly to change the landscape of pancreatic cancer survival rates in the UK, and she hopes that more survivors will join her in celebrating this milestone.
Beyond spearheading the charity, who has worked on ground-breaking campaigns such as Pancreas Not Penis and a somewhat controversial campaign, I Wish I Had Another Cancer, Ali has been described as having an “encyclopaedic knowledge” of pancreatic cancer and is popular due to her ability to see the disease both from a clinician’s and patient’s perspective.
PCA has succeeded in campaigning for many life-changing interventions in terms of direct referrals for CT scans for GPs, direct referrals for pharmacists, and breaking down the barriers so that the general public can better understand the symptoms and risk factors. We are also continuing to support a nursing post in Scotland and breaking down the language barrier by publishing resources in six of the most commonly spoken languages in the UK (after English).
PCA were the first ever organisation in the world to develop CPD-accredited e-learning on pancreatic cancer for healthcare professionals.
She joined forces with others to set up the UK’s very first Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Week in November 2009. Her surgeon, Mr Neville Menezes, is also a founding trustee of Pancreatic Cancer Action.
In 2020, Ali oversaw the merger of PCA with Pancreatic Cancer Scotland (PCS) to focus on improving symptom awareness, early diagnosis and patient care in Scotland and the UK.
Ali has been involved in many steering groups, committees and organisations that have the power to save the lives of pancreatic cancer sufferers. She is considered an expert thought leader by doctors, scientists, and politicians in the UK and abroad.
Ali stepped down as PCA CEO in April 2023 to enable her to free up time to more effectively advocate for all those affected by pancreatic cancer and fight to improve early diagnosis of the disease.
Ali’s continued role at PCA
After stepping down as CEO, Ali continues to support PCA in a public-facing role as Founder and as an ambassador for our mission and vision.
This includes being a spokesperson for PCA in the media, representing PCA at conferences and events, delivering occupational health talks, being a key opinion leader for pancreatic cancer, and sitting on advisory groups for pharmaceutical companies and research groups.
Ali is a sounding board and mentor for the existing executive team and our new CEO. This ensures that PCA continues to benefit from Ali’s experience, network and reputation in the field.
Get in touch
Follow Ali on Twitter @AliStunt
For all media and speaker enquiries, please contact our press office.