Survivor Story: 5+ survivor

Patient Story: Colin Wood

Nigel describes undergoing an emergency Whipple procedure to remove his pancreatic cancer, and later being told that he would only live for another year.

My pancreatic cancer story began in December 2013 in Australia where I live with my wife, Mary. With few symptoms, we received a shock diagnosis of primary pancreatic tumour. This was followed by urgent Whipple surgery causing severe internal haemorrhage which required 17 bags of blood to prevent cardiac arrest and stroke, and more urgent surgery. I was in intensive care for over a week.

As I recovered from the surgeries, on leaving hospital, I pushed for a prognosis and was told ‘you should be good for one year’. However, this also came with the words ‘everyone is different’ and ‘we hope for the best but plan for the worst’.

After returning home, my weight dropped by two stone. I was weak and had no appetite and was at my lowest ebb. However, with Mary’s support, and a positive attitude, rather than worry about the little time I may have left, we set about overcoming adversity. Mary researched into diet which became very important.

It was a long bumpy road but nearly five years later, I am enjoying life with energy and enthusiasm. My weight is ‘normal’ and steady and I enjoy my food. Mary has continued with a wholesome diet and I take selected supplements. Whether the supplements are helping, we don’t really know, but the medics now say ‘whatever you are doing, keep doing it!’ Exercise is important, just a brisk daily walk, and a
rest mid. afternoon is beneficial to prevent tiredness setting in during the evening.

With regard to my cancer, as with anyone who has been diagnosed, there is no cure, only good management of the condition is key to quality of life. I have had some scary test results along the way that have led to chemotherapy. Blood tests and CT scans are routine. I can add, at this point in time, the treatment is keeping small liver lesions in check whilst I continue to live each day to the full.

I hope my five year story gives hope and inspiration to others and I am happy to expand on any of the above points.

Sydney, Australia

A few additional things I might add is that as my post surgery recovery period blossomed from months to years and I realised I was becoming  part of an exclusive survivors group. I expected the medical professionals to get interested and ask lots of questions to understand the key features of my prolonged survival. They have the raw data from blood tests and lots of CT scans but apart from that nothing much else.

I expected lots of lifestyle questions about diet, alcohol consumption, exercise sleep, level of depression etc. so that others may have similar benefits. Instead I heard nothing which was disappointing.

After tons of reading my lovely wife and I concluded we had to do everything possible to aid the body to slow the development of the cancer so we developed what we classify as our own form of diet based immunotherapy. Love and support was essential as well. Some friends find the whole cancer thing difficult to converse about especially as many have limited personal experience.

So I drink copious green tea, green leafy vegetables, daily juicing, low red meat consumption, turmeric etc. The list is endless and again happy to share with anyone interested, so if anyone has any questions ( and I would have loved to talk with survivors in the post operative stage) again feel free to ask.

Survival strengthens hope for a brighter tomorrow.