A pancreatic cancer survivor from Yorkshire, Simon Vickerman, is appealing to members of the public to be aware of the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer, following his diagnosis three years ago, by taking part in a national awareness campaign.
Simon, 43, has teamed up with charity Pancreatic Cancer Action to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer for Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, which takes place every November. By appearing on beer mats and sharing his story on the charity’s Pancreatic Cancer Aware website he hopes to show that early detection of pancreatic cancer can have a positive outcome.
Pancreatic cancer is the fifth biggest cancer killer in the UK and nearly 10,000 people a year are diagnosed with it. The disease has the lowest survival rate of all common cancers at just five per cent, which has barely changed in almost 50 years.
The Pancreatic Cancer Aware national advertising campaign aims to educate the public on the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer, encouraging them to see their GP if they believe they have any of the key symptoms which include:
- New onset mid back pain that is persistent and worsening
- Abdominal pain or discomfort that can comes and goes, which tends to get worse
- Significant and unexplained weight loss
- Indigestion that is not responding to prescribed medication
- Yellowing of the skin and/or eyes, dark urine and/or very itchy skin
- Fatty and pale stools that are smelly and hard to flush
Pancreatic Cancer Action is committed to working towards earlier diagnosis of the disease so that surgery, currently the only cure, is made available to sufferers. The charity funds research into early diagnosis, provides medical education programmes and launches awareness campaigns.
Simon, who was diagnosed in time for surgery, says: ‘I count myself as one of the lucky ones to still be alive, and I hope that by taking part in awareness campaigns, I will raise the profile of this terrible cancer.’
‘I was diagnosed three years ago, just before my 40th birthday. I began experiencing agonising back ache, stomach ache and lost a significant amount of weight. I moaned a lot about it to my wife but carried on regardless, until my wife called to tell me she had booked me an appointment with the doctor. That appointment saved my life because I was diagnosed in time for surgery, which is currently the only cure.’
When asked, Simon didn’t hesitate to take part in Pancreatic Cancer Action’s campaign. He continues, ‘Pancreatic cancer has a chronic lack of awareness, which is one of the reasons survival rates have barely changed in 40 years. It’s vital to get awareness out there so that more people can survive this horrendous disease like me.’
‘My advice to anyone who might suspect they have symptoms not normal for them, DO NOT IGNORE THEM and go to the doctor. And if you’re not happy with one doctor’s diagnosis, go to another one.’
The charity’s founder Ali Stunt (herself a ten-year survivor of pancreatic cancer) said ‘We are delighted that Simon has been one of the people to tell his story of being diagnosed early with pancreatic cancer. By taking part, he provides hope for those diagnosed with the disease and the importance of visiting your GP if you are experiencing symptoms that are not normal for you.’
If you would like to find out more about the symptoms of pancreatic cancer please visit our symptoms page.
If you would like to read more patient stories please visit our patient stories section of our website.