Bereaved Story

“I am joining Pancreatic Cancer Action’s ‘60 Miles in April’ challenge in memory of my Mum, Pauline, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2020. Sunday marks the fourth Mother’s Day since I lost my Mum.”

Lesley Irving is here today to tell her mum's tragic story of pancreatic cancer during the height of the pandemic and how she is continuing to support our efforts to save lives through early diagnosis.

Pancreatic Cancer Action’s ’60 Miles in April’ challenge will raise funds to help the charity continue to save lives through early diagnosis. I am thrilled to be joining thousands of dedicated supporters across the UK to come together to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer and participate in the challenge.

Losing Mum has been difficult to navigate. I now have a different attitude towards the things I do. I reduced my working week as money isn’t everything, and time doesn’t wait for anyone. As Mother’s Day approaches, I remember my kind, helpful, lovely Mum. Keeping positive can be hard, but everything Mum taught me has given me the strength to carry on. 

When it comes to raising awareness of pancreatic cancer, nothing stands in my way. That’s why I am thrilled to join forces with Pancreatic Cancer Action and participate in the ’60 Miles in April’ challenge. I have been supporting and fundraising for Pancreatic Cancer Action for many years. I hope to make an even bigger impact this year to help others and keep my amazing Mum’s memory alive. 

Mum received a pancreatic cancer diagnosis in February 2020, and me and my family had to try to cope with the devastating effects of pancreatic cancer while also dealing with the added stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic. Receiving a pancreatic cancer diagnosis is traumatic at any time – trying to navigate what it all means. Receiving the diagnosis in the middle of a pandemic made it even more distressing.

Mum started to feel unwell at the start of 2020. She had been experiencing back pain and received a pancreatic cancer diagnosis following a scan. Within weeks, her body had been weakened by cancer. Mentally, it got to her immediately and physically, within about a week, she was not the person she was before.

At an oncologist appointment, we were told Mum could have around three months to live. She was offered chemotherapy to extend her life by a few months. Sadly, her health deteriorated quickly. When she was due to start chemotherapy, the country was just about to enter lockdown, and she received a letter to say her treatment was cancelled. 

Our family opted to take Mum to a hospice as it was becoming difficult to care for her at home. Taking Mum to the hospice was the last time I was able to see her properly.  I had to say my final goodbye to Mum through a window. In her final week, the hospice pulled her bed up to the window. I’m glad they did, but it was so traumatic. I was standing in flowers, trying to lean up to a window. By this time, her entire body had been taken over.  I couldn’t reach her to hold her hand. My brother Calum was by her side with my dad when she lost her fight.

Sitting at home for those nine weeks and unable to visit Mum left me feeling helpless. My coping mechanism was to keep myself busy. I started fundraising and started a Just Giving page for Mum. I set myself a target of £1,500, and so far, I have raised over £6,000, which was split between Pancreatic Cancer Action and Ayrshire Hospice. This year, I am excited to take on the ’60 Miles in April’ challenge and raise important funds for Pancreatic Cancer Action in memory of my Mum.