Patient Stories

“The word Cancer down the phone was shattering”

PCA Supporter Kelly, has kindly shared her mum- Gwen Booth's story of diagnosis from her own perspective, as she recalls the signs and symptoms Gwen encountered prior to diagnosis.

Pancreatic Cancer Action
Patient Information Booklets

What is Pancreatic cancer and how is it diagnosed?

This booklet for patients and carers describes pancreatic cancer, its causes and symptoms. It gives detailed information on the diagnostic tests used and the stages of pancreatic cancer. It includes a section on what to ask your doctor, where to go for further information and a glossary to explain many of the terms used.

It was 2014 and Dad and Mam had just bought a new caravan on the beach front and after a stressful year Mam was looking forward to putting her feet up, enjoying the sunshine, spending time with her grandchildren whom she adored and just enjoy retirement.

In December Mam and Dad came over to stay for xmas, I could see something wasn’t right. Mam wasn’t feeling herself, she was experiencing heartburn, tiredness, sickness and having to run to the ‘loo’

Trips to the doctors resulted in omeprazole for the heartburn and anti sickness tablets for the nausea.

In late January 2015 Dad and Mam went on holiday to Malta for a few weeks.  They returned at the end of February, Mam’s symptoms were the same and no better.

March 24th it was Mam’s birthday so I took her out for lunch, I was eating for two, literally! Baby number 5 was due at the end of May. I sat eating, Mam could barely eat, she hardly touched her food, I was worried and told her she needed this sorting and to make another appointment. After another trip to the doctors Mam was finally referred for an ultrasound.

April came and Mam was getting worse. Vomiting, feeling cold, everything was going through her by now. Mam had an appointment booked for the Thursday with a consultant to discuss the scan results but when I called over to see her on the Tuesday she was on the sofa, shivering and it was a lovely warm sunny day. I begged her please to go to the A&E and not wait until the Thursday.

That evening I called her to see how she was and asked again please just go to A&E. At 10pm dad called and said he was taking her, she was getting worse. My brother met them at the hospital.

I was in bed unable to sleep, waiting for the phone to ring when finally at 2.30am my brother called me. That call still haunts me now.  The results Mam was going to be given on Thursday by the consultant were now in the hands of a junior doctor in A&E, holding her hand he told her it was Cancer, secondary in the liver the primary was still unknown.

The word Cancer down the phone was shattering. It was like I was having a nightmare . My mind in overdrive I went on google, typing the symptoms and possibilities and the one thing that stood out was pancreatic Cancer. I had never heard of it before but from what I was reading I was petrified!

I went back to bed and told my husband the news, I just remember saying and thinking ‘I have never ever thought about life without my Mam’ I cried and cried.

The following day Mam had tests done and a drip to re-hydrate her small framed body, she was always small but she had lost so much weight and everything was still going through her.

Friday morning the 24th April we got called as a family to go for the results. I already knew what the worst could be and what we really didn’t want to hear. The consultant stood and told us, it was pancreatic cancer, stage 4 and there was nothing they could do. Just like that, our world was shattered.

Mam asked if they could operate, no was the answer, it was too advanced. Chemo ? No was the initial answer but then a McMillan nurse came to see Mam and said it was an option to prolong life but not as a cure. Mam jumped at this option, of course she wanted to prolong her life as long as she could!

The next day Mam was allowed home with a McMillan nurse and hospice at home calling. Mam was weak, tired and in pain but I seriously didn’t know how quick things could turn.

I was heavily pregnant, my hormones everywhere. I had never thought of life without my Mam, why would I, I was 35 and she was only 66. We did everything together, we loved shopping, doing things with the children and we saw each other most days and spoke on the phone god knows how many times in a day. Mam was with me after I gave birth to all of my 4 children and I desperately wanted her with me after this baby. As well as my Mam she was also my best friend.

I visited her everyday from the diagnosis, did her hair and we even talked about the funeral and what she wanted and somehow I was dealing with it. I think being pregnant I had to deal with it head on. I had found out we were having a little girl and secretly told Mam, she was so happy for my other daughter to be having a little sister as she was in the middle of 3 boys. I also told her we were naming her Cadi.

Mam had two rounds of chemo after leaving the hospital on the 25th of April. Mam was struggling to eat and had sores in her mouth from the chemo.

May 9th I decided to have my daughters party early incase of complications with either baby or Mam. On our way home I got a call from my brother, Mam was in an ambulance on her way to hospital and I was to get there as soon as possible. I arrived before the ambulance and waited outside A&E. When they opened the ambulance doors Mam was sitting up chatting away and pointing at my tummy telling the paramedics that our baby was due soon. Her eyes I will never forget, they were so so yellow and at this point I realised how bad things were.

Next thing Mam was rushed into resus, her body temperature was so low and they couldn’t get it up. One minute she was sat up talking, a little confused, even joked it was like a party because there were so many doctors and nurses in the room. The next she was laying down with her eyes open and shut and trying to speak but unable. This was when the doctors took us as a family into a side room and explained Mam’s organs were shutting down, there was nothing they could do.

Mam was transferred to Alaw ward, the cancer unit and once settled we sat with her. Me, my dad and my two brothers. Within a few hours Mam took her last breath, it all happened so fast, my husband didn’t even make it in time.

Having to tell my four children that their grandmother whom they adored had passed was the hardest thing I have ever done.

The funeral was on the 18th of May and on the 27th of May I gave birth to our beautiful angel who we called Cadi Gwen, Gwen being my Mothers name.

Since losing Mam I have held nights in her memory, coffee mornings, ran the London marathon in 2017 plus two Cardiff half marathons and my husband also ran the London marathon all for pancreatic cancer action. Raising so far over £17,000 for pancreatic cancer action. If we can help other families out there from having to go through the pain we have, help them get support, information and awareness of this evil cancer then we won’t stop!

Mam has gone and that can’t be changed but getting the knowledge and awareness out there could make a huge difference to others and that’s what Mam would have wanted.

Hopefully by sharing my story also in the medium of Welsh will raise more awareness here in Wales.

Welsh translation

Yn dilyn blwyddyn heriol a phrysur yn 2014 roedd Mam yn edrych ‘mlaen i fwynahau ei ymddeoliad ar ol prynnu Carafan ar y traeth efo Dad. Doedd hi methu aros I gael ymlacio, mwynhau’r haul, ac fwy nac oll, I gael treulio amser gwerthfawr efo’I wyrion a wyresau.

Ym Mis Rhagfyr yr un flwyddyn daeth Mam a Dad I aros atom ni i dreulio ‘Dolig – ond doedd Mam ddim i’w gweld fel hi ei hun. Roedd hi’n profi llosg y galon, blinder, salwch, ac yr angen I frysio I’r toiled.

Yn dilyn ymweliadau at y meddyg, cafodd Mam ‘Omeprazole’ at llosg y gallon, a tabledi ‘anti-sickness’ ar gyfer ei chyfog.

Diwedd Ionawr 2015, treuliodd Mam a Dad ‘chydig o wythnosau ar wyliau yn Malta. Ar ol cyraedd adre diwedd Chwefror doedd dim byd ‘di newid, doedd symptomau Mam ddim gwell.

Ar y 24 o Fawrth roedd hi’n benblwydd ar Mam felly aethom ni am ginio, a tra fy mod I’n bwyta I ddau (babi rhif 5 ar y ffordd diwedd Mai!!) doedd Mam prin yn gallu bwyta o gwbl. Dwedais wrthi ei bod angen mynd I weld y meddyg eto… yn dilyn ymweliad arall at y meddyg cafodd Mam ei chyfeirio am sgan uwchsain.

Daeth Mis Ebrill o gwmpas ac roedd symptomau Mam yn mynd yn waeth. Chwydu, teimlo’n oer, a popeth yn mynd drwyddi. Roedd gan Mam apwyntiad efo ymgynghorydd ar y Dydd Iau I drafod canlyniadau ei sgan, ond ar y Dydd Mawrth, ar ddiwrnod cynnes braf roedd Mam ar y soffa yn rhynnu. Triais fy ngorau I’w pherswadio I fynd I’r Ysbyty y diwrnod hwnnw a pheidio aros tan Dydd Iau.

Y noson honno, ffoniais I weld sut oedd Mam ac erfyn arni I fynd I’r Ysbyty. Am 10yh ffoniodd Dad a dweud ei fod yn mynd a Mam I mewn gan ei bod hi’n mynd yn waeth. Aeth fy mrawd I’w cyfarfod nhw yn A&E.

Adre’, yn fy ngwely, doeddwn I methu cysgu ac yn aros I’r ffon ganu- am 2.30yb ffoniodd fy mrawd. Galwad ffon nai fyth anghofio. Roedd canlyniad sgan Mam, rwan yn nwylo meddyg yn A&E, a tra’n gafael yn ei llaw, dwedodd wrthi fod ganddi Ganser, eilaidd yn yr iau, ond roedd popeth arall dal yn aneglur.

Roedd clywed y gair Canser yn dor-calonnus. Roeddwn I’n teimlo fel fy mod I mewn hunllef. Yn dilyn y galwad ffon, es I ar ‘google’ a teipio’r holl symptomau I mewn… un o’r peth wnaeth sefyll allan oedd Canser y Pancreas. Doeddwn I erioed wedi clywed amdan o’r blaen, ond o beth roeddwn I’n ddarllen, cefais fy nychryn.

Es I’n nol I’r gwely a rhannu’r newyddion efo ‘ngwr. Dwi’n cofio dweud “Dydwi erioed ‘di meddwl am fywyd heb Mam”, a wedyn crio a chrio.

Y diwrnod canlynol cafodd Mam mwy o brofion ac aeth ar ‘drip’ I ailhydradu ei chorff  – roedd hi wedi bod yn ffram bach erioed, ond yn dilyn popeth roedd hi wedi colli gymaint o bwysau.

Bore Dydd Gwener y 24 o Ebrill aethom ni fel teulu I gael canlyniadau’r profion. Safodd yr ymgynghorydd a dweud wrthym fod gan Mam Canser y Pancreas ‘Stage 4’ a doedd dim byd y gallant wneud. Ac mewn eiliad, roedd ein bywydau wedi chwalu. Gofynodd Mam os oedd modd cael llawdriniaeth, ond ‘na’ oedd yr ateb gan I’r canser fod wedi datblygu gormod. Yr un ateb y gafon ni ynglyn a ‘chemo’ I ddechrau, ond daeth Nyrs McMillan I weld Mam a dweud ei fod yn opsiwn er mwyn cael mwy o amser, ond ddim fel gwellhad. Wrth gwrs, neidiodd Mam ar y cyfle I gael byw yr hiraf ac y gallai.

Y diwrnod canlynol cafodd Mam ddod adre’, gyda Nyrs McMillan ac hospis yn galw. Roedd mam ‘di blino, yn wan ac mewn poen – ond wyddwn I byth pa mor gyflym y gallai pethau newid.

Roeddwn I’n feichiog iawn ,ac fy hormonau ym mhobmam. Doeddwn I erioed ‘di meddwl am fywyd heb Mam. Ond pam fyswn i? Doeddwn I ‘mond yn 35 a hithau yn 66.  Roeddem ni’n gwneud popeth efo’n gilydd, wrth ein boddau yn siopa, a diwnodau efo’r plant. Anaml iawn oedd diwrnod yn pasio heb imi weld Mam, ac fel arall roedden ni ar y ffon sawl gwaith mewn diwrnod. Roedd Mam efo fi yn dilyn genedigaeth 4 o fy mhlant ac roeddwn I wirioneddol ei heisiau yn dilyn y babi yma. Yn ogystal a bod yn fam, roedd hi hefyd yn ffrind gorau.

Gwelais i Mam pob dydd yn dilyn y diagnosis, ac rhyw ffordd neu gilydd ffeindiais ffordd I gario ‘mlaen. Dwi’n meddwl gan fy mod mor feichiog doedd gen I ddim llawer o ddewis ond I ddelio efo popeth ‘head on’. Dwedais wrth Mam yn gyfrinachol ein bod yn cael hogan fach, a roedd hi mor falch drost y ferch hynaf gan iddi fod ynghanol 3 o hogiau. Hefyd, dwedais wrth Mam ein bod ni am ei galw’n Cadi.

Cafodd Mam 2 rownd o Chemo ar ol gadael yr Ysbyty ar y 25 o Ebrill. Roedd yn ei chael hi’n anodd I fwyta ac achosodd y chemo ddolurau yn ei cheg.

Penderfynais gynnal parti fy merch yn gynar, ar y 9ed o Fai rhag ofn imi gael cymhlethodau efo’r babi neu efo Mam .Ar y ffordd adre o’r parti, ffoniodd fy mrawd, roedd Mam mewn ambiwlans ar y ffordd I’r Ysbyty, ac roedd gofyn imi fynd yno cyn gynted a phosib. Cyrhaeddais cyn yr ambilwans ac arhosais tu allan I A&E – pan agorodd drws yr ambilwans roedd Mam yn eistedd I fyny ac yn sgwrsio efo’r ‘paramedics’ ac yn pwyntio ar fy mol gan ddweud  fod babi ar y ffordd yn fuan iawn. Wnai fyth angohfio gweld llygaid Mam y diwrnod hwnnw, roedden nhw’n felyn, ac ar y pwynt yma sylweddolais pa mor ddrwg oedd y sefyllfa.

Y peth nesaf, roedd Mam yn cael ei brysio I ‘resus’ gan I dymheredd ei chorff fod mor isel. Un munud roedd hi’n eistedd I fyny yn sgwrsio, er ychydig yn ddryslyd, y munud nesaf roedd hi’n gorwedd lawr a’I llygadai yn agor a chau ac yn trio, ond yn methu siarad. Dyma pan dynnodd y meddygon ni fel teulu I sdafell fach ac egluro fod organau Mam yn cau lawr a doedd dim byd y gallant wneud.

Cafodd Mam ei throsglwyddo I ward Alaw, sef y ward Cancer. Eisteddodd Dad, fi a fy nau mrawd efo Mam, ac o fewn ‘chydig o oriau cymherodd Mam ei anadl olaf. Digwyddodd popeth mor gyflym.

Y peth anodda imi erioed wneud oedd dweud wrth fy mhlant ein bod wedi colli Nain. Nain oedd ganddynt y meddwl y byd ohoni.

Roedd yr angladd ar yr 18 o Fai, ac ar y 27 o Fai cafodd Cadi Gwen ei geni – Gwen ar ol enw Mam.

Ers colli Mam dwi wedi trefnu sawl digwyddiad I godi arain ac ymwybyddiaeth tuag at Cancer y Pancreas. Nosweithiau er cof am Mam, boreau coffi, ac hefyd rhedais I a fy ngwr Marathon Llundain, yn ogystal a hyn rhadais i 2 hanner marathon Caerdydd. Hyd yn hyn rydym ni wedi codi dros £17,000 tuag at Pancreatic Cancer Action – os allwn ni helpu unrhyw deulu arall I beidio mynd drwy’r boen wnaethon ni drwy golli Mam, eu helpu I gael cefnogaeth, gwybodaeth ac ymwybyddiaeth o’r salwch creulon yma –  yna fe wnawn ni fyth stopio!

Gawn ni byth Mam yn ol, ond mae codi ymwybddiaeth yn hollbwysig a gall wneud gwahaniaeth mawr – a dyna’n union fuasai Mam isio.

Gobeithio, drwy rannu fy stori drwy gyfrwng y gymraeg fe allai godi fwy o ymwybiddiaeth yma yng Nghymru.

If you would like to share your story and raise awareness, please email us at: