Carer Stories

Jennifer Shares John’s Story

Jennifer Dowsett has reflected on her husband, John, who died one month after his pancreatic cancer diagnosis. John, as with many patients of this disease, was fit, healthy, never smoked, barely drank alcohol and ate a healthy diet.

John Dowsett

“I would like to share the story of my wonderful husband, John, who died just one month after his pancreatic cancer diagnosis. He was a very good athlete during most of our earlier married life, and when he retired, became an avid athletic official, attending many meetings throughout the UK.

In 1999, John was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and endured various medical interventions, including chemotherapy. However, despite receiving a very gloomy prognosis, he actually survived well over and above the five-year survival rate. John’s consultant at St Barts actually felt that maybe he had beaten the disease. During his slightly latter years, he was also diagnosed with extremely low-grade prostate cancer but didn’t require any medication, having checks only every now and again, “watchful waiting” it was called.

A few days before Christmas 2013, we attended a party, and on the way home, John kept belching. We both made fun of it at the time. He said that he couldn’t understand what had caused it. I can’t actually recall now when the burping stopped. We went to our sons for Christmas, and he was fine during our time there, but fairly soon after, he complained of slight indigestion, so he went to our doctor at the beginning of the New Year, who prescribed the standard medication which unfortunately didn’t help.

After that, he had an endoscopy, which didn’t reveal anything. The GP then mentioned about having a CT scan, but as an appointment seemed to be taking ages to come through, we decided to pay for a private investigation.”

John Dowsett

“During the appointment, the doctor mentioned that John’s pancreas looked slightly swollen, so I asked what the reason for that might be. I was told that in slimmer people, some organs can appear slightly larger. I was immediately worried by that statement, because all along, I had a dreadful feeling that something wasn’t right.

A CT scan was arranged on the 17 February, 2014, and we received the devastating results almost two weeks later. John was admitted into Colchester Hospital hoping for treatment that they felt might help. Chemotherapy was mentioned but it shortly came to light that he had a lesion on his liver, and his heart was also being affected, which couldn’t regulate with medication.

It was very obvious John was extremely ill and we were lucky to be able to acquire a bed in a local hospice where he died on Monday, 17 March 2014, aged 69, just months shy of his 70th birthday. The care given was wonderful, not only to John, but to the family as well. They are angels.

I will never get over the fact that John succumbed to this awful cancer. He had never smoked a single cigarette in his life, hardly drank alcohol and was always very busy, not only with his athletic work, but even at home, gardening or washing our cars, he very rarely sat down. We always ate healthily, too, it still doesn’t make any sense to me.”