“He was very brave, looked this disease in the eye, and proudly planned and paid for his funeral from his hospice bed. He was always a proud man.”
This month Nicola Millar shares her brother's experience with pancreatic cancer.
My beautiful brave big brother Richard was the oldest of five siblings, he was always healthy, never complained, and was a fit young man for 42. But, 18 months before diagnosis, he had gone back and forth to A&E, which was odd as Richard never complained.
Each time he attended A&E, he was told it was gastro or muscular. But, as time went on my parents and I seemed to notice Richard was not getting any better and he was losing lots of weight very quickly and we also noticed the spark in his big brown eyes had gone.
Just before Richard got the news we never imagined we would hear, he had been to A&E again. This time I went over to see what was going on to be told he was fine, only to find out less than 2 weeks later he was dying from pancreatic cancer and there was no option for any treatment other than end-of-life care.
Shortly after that, Richard deteriorated very quickly he went to hospice care for 12 days and was back home for his final days. He died on 11th September 2020, just four short weeks after being diagnosed. He was very brave, looked this disease in the eye, and proudly planned and paid for his funeral from his hospice bed. He was always a proud man.
As a family, we have done a lot of fundraising for pancreatic cancer starting from the month after my brother passed. I had Belfast city hall and titanic buildings light up purple for the past two years to mark World Pancreatic Cancer Day; something I’m very proud of as it’s never been done before. I hope to continue to secure these buildings every year I can, and more buildings along the way! I’ve also had some of my local MLA join and support me for the online push for PERT drug trials to try to help people survive the disease.
I told him that I will always tell his story and share awareness – if it only saves one person, then I’ll have done him proud and I will continue to do that. I just wish as a family we had known more about the disease and the symptoms, maybe, just maybe he could have had some treatment and extra time. My advice from having lost my brother, is to never be afraid to ask for a second opinion if you feel something is not right; you know your body, always listen to it.