“His words at the end of the meeting were “you’ve spent your time looking after others it’s our turn to look after you”. Mum and I cried when we came out.”
Rachael Evans shares her mother's battle with pancreatic cancer.
A friend’s dad started with the symptoms of being jaundiced and feeding unwell. He was admitted to hospital and given the diagnosis of a tumour. Three weeks later my mum started to display exactly the same signs. We went to A&E where she was given a bed overnight before being taken to a ward the next day. All her symptoms were exactly the same and I was dreading the news. She stayed on the ward for a week where she had a stent fitted. The jaundice didn’t disappear with this. They took a biopsy from the pancreas and sent her home.
"The letter stated she had pancreatic cancer and due to her age treatment would be unlikely."
About two weeks later she received a letter from the consultant who she knew from when she had worked as Head of nursing in the same hospital before she retired. The letter stated she had pancreatic cancer and due to her age treatment would be unlikely. I was furious as not only had she been told by letter, (the worst of covid had passed by now and not even a phone call) by someone she had worked with but when I then phoned up to speak to him about it was told he’d gone on annual leave!
Anyway, mum was our concern, so we pushed for a 2nd opinion in another hospital. They were amazing. Mum was seen within weeks; the consultant explained all options including the tough Whipple surgery. His words at the end of the meeting were “you’ve spent your time looking after others it’s our turn to look after you”. Mum and I cried when we came out.
After a lot of discussion, mum decided to go for the Whipple surgery at the age of 83. She did so well and after almost 4 weeks in hospital came home. She was naturally very weak but was such a determined lady she continued to fight. In February she started chemotherapy as an extra precaution. She had chemo every week for 3 weeks then had a week off. This lasted for 6 months. At the end of her chemo, I’d decorated the house with balloons and banners to celebrate how well she’d done.
"They did offer some more chemo but would only add an extra 2 months if that. Mum decided enough was enough and no more chemo which I agreed with."
Mum then had another routine scan in July to check how things were. When the results came through in August I was away on holiday and will never forget phoning her to see how it had gone to hear it had returned and even spread to the lungs. I was devastated as was mum. She was given a prognosis of 6 months
They did offer some more chemo but would only add an extra 2 months if that. Mum decided enough was enough and no more chemo which I agreed with.
"She had fought SO hard but, in the end, this cruel cancer won the battle."
Mum started planning her funeral in September with the songs she wanted. The beginning of October, mum started to decline really quickly and eventually was in bed all the time. We were able to keep mum at home, the district nurses were amazing as well as the acute response team who we called out regularly in the nights. Marie Curie’s sleeping service was amazing too, which meant someone watched mum through the night while we got some sleep. The last 3 – 4 days were awful as mum couldn’t get out of bed at all and eventually couldn’t even drink. She passed away peacefully at the end of October 2022 with all her family with her. I took time off 3 weeks before she passed away and will never regret that as I felt it was a privilege to be there to help her as much as I could.
She had fought SO hard but, in the end, this cruel cancer won the battle.
Mum will always be in our hearts.