“I insisted that I attend her next GP appointment with her, and it was then that the GP actually said the words that haunt me to this day: “Don’t worry, it’s definitely not cancer.””
Today, Mairead Laing shares her mother's tragic story of pancreatic cancer.
It was summer 2016, and we were enjoying a family trip when my mum started to complain of this niggling pain in her side. I could tell it was bothering her, and made her promise to see her GP when we got home. She was seen by her GP the following week and was advised she may have kidney stones and referred her for tests, that confirmed that she did indeed have kidney stones and that they should clear on their own.
This was the start of almost four years of being palmed off by her GP; it was kidney stones and that it would get better, but it never did. Endless GP visits and blood tests yielded no answers, and time after time, she was told her blood tests were normal, and that it was nothing sinister.
Fast forward to December 2019, and by this stage, my mum had lost so much weight she could barely eat and was in constant pain when an appointment came through for urology. I attended the appointment with her and was shocked when the consultant told us that my mum had one tiny kidney stone that had likely passed a long time ago. She also advised us that her GP should have been aware that her symptoms were much more worrying, we went home more confused and worried than ever.
Shortly after Christmas, my mum was experiencing severe abdominal pain, so we took her to A&E where she had more blood tests and was advised she had diverticulitis and was sent home with antibiotics. I insisted that I attend her next GP appointment with her, and it was then that the GP actually said the words that haunt me to this day: “Don’t worry, it’s definitely not cancer.” I begged him to refer her for an emergency appointment which he hastily agreed to.
Mum received the appointment fairly quickly, and we saw a general surgeon. I could tell by the look on his face when he listened to mums’ symptoms that he was very concerned and referred her for an urgent CT scan. Mum’s scan was on 16th March 2020, where they discovered two blood clots in her lungs. She was admitted and told two days later that she had pancreatic cancer and that it had spread to her liver.
There was no hope, no treatment, and no cure. My mum battled hard, but her poor body was so weak and sadly, she passed away 11 weeks later.