“We were in complete shock as we had never heard of pancreatic cancer”
Rita McIntosh reflects on her husband, David, and his experiences with pancreatic cancer.
David was a very healthy 51-year old who had never been unwell until he complained of back pain . The GP advised it was a pulled muscle and that it would ease in time.
As months passed, we insisted he visit GP again who advised that as it was muscular, it takes time, and advised not to strain and to rest. However, as the pain was unbearable, several visits were made to the GP for pain relief.
On Easter Sunday 2015, David’s eyes became yellow and we took him to A&E, where they advised he had jaundice caused by gallstones and that he would have a small operation to blast / remove these by keyhole surgery.
Hours later, I was called to the hospital and advised David’s scan showed a large tumour on his pancreas and a drain was fitted. We were in complete shock as we had never heard of pancreatic cancer, and as we weren’t provided with any literature, after Googling the disease we were scared and our world fell apart.
Days later, he received a Whipple operation, and after a long 8 hours, we were told they had removed the tumour in full. We took David home to recover and we assumed any pain post-operation was normal.
We met with the oncologist who advised David he was cancer-free and would be seen every 6 months, then once a year, and that the plan to give chemotherapy was not required. So we went home and called the family together to celebrate this news.
Months later, David said the post-op pain wasn’t easing and we fought for a scan at A&E. They advised that the cancer had returned and was in his liver and wasn’t curable, but treatable. David started on chemotherapy and the pain was horrific. His weight dropped dramatically and he was using Creon tablets with food, and eating was very difficult.
David was supported from diagnosis to end of life by a small wonderful team of nurses, and our GP allowed him his wish to die at home with dignity. We sadly lost David in March 2016, aged 53. He passed at home with his family.