Pancreatic cancer news

Raising awareness of pancreatic cancer in Wales

Rob Dursley was a fit and healthy 69-year-old Electrical Contracts Manager from Cardiff. He was adored by his family and he enjoyed nothing more than spending quality time together with them and playing football with his grandson Connor. This is his story.

Within just 11 days, a series of events happened to change both Rob’s life and his family’s lives forever. He went to the doctors on 23rd March 2020 complaining of back pain, stomach pain and bloating. These symptoms had been going on for a while and they weren’t getting better. He was diagnosed with suspected IBS and put on medication, which had no effect on his symptoms.

When he returned to the doctor on 15th April, a new GP asked him about his family history. Rob explained that his father had died of pancreatic cancer – before this, no one had asked about his family history.

On 17th April after visiting his local hospital, Rob received the kind of call that nobody can prepare you for – not only did he have pancreatic cancer, but the cancer had already spread to his liver and lungs. He was given just weeks to live.

In the days that followed, his health drastically declined. His daughter Beth moved in to care for him alongside his wife Gill and his son Gareth. His wish was to spend the final days of his life in his home, surrounded by and looked after by his family.

Rob got his wish. But he sadly passed away on 29th April 2020, just 11 days after he received his original diagnosis. Due to the pandemic, the hospital bed his family had ordered was delayed and arrived one day after he had already passed away. His family had to wait an entire year to scatter his ashes together because of the Covid-19 restrictions.

This heartbreaking story is just one example of the devastating effect pancreatic cancer can have on peoples’ lives and the lives of their families who are left behind. There are too many stories like Rob’s. Particularly, there are too many stories like Rob’s for people living in Wales.

Pancreatic cancer is currently the 6th biggest cancer killer in Wales causing over 500 deaths a year. Yet 75% of Welsh people we surveyed earlier this year reported that they know “nothing” (21.6%) or “almost nothing” (53.4%) about pancreatic cancer.

The current 1-year survival rate for people across the whole of Wales is 23.8% – the 5-year survival rate is just 7.6%. In some areas of Wales, that number is as low at 3%.

This June we are campaigning for greater awareness of pancreatic cancer in Wales through our PC Aware Campaign.

The PC Aware Campaign aims to increase public awareness of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer amongst the general public in Wales whilst working closely with welsh healthcare professionals such as GPs and pharmacists to raise awareness of the disease amongst those who are in the best position to diagnose it.

If you or someone you love is experiencing any of the following symptoms and they’re not getting better, please make an appointment with your doctor. They may not be cancer, but it’s important to get them checked out.

  • Mid-back pain
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Unexplained weight loss

You can view the full list of symptoms here. You’re also more likely to get pancreatic cancer if you smoke or have a recent type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

When pancreatic cancer is detected early, it drastically increases an individual’s chances of survival. Please share the signs, symptoms and risk factors with your family and friends. By raising awareness, we can help to save lives and there can be fewer heartbreaking stories like Rob’s.

If you would like to share your story to raise awareness, please email us: comms@panact.org