Bereaved Story

IBS Awareness Month: “Not hearing him is the hardest part for me.”

For IBS Awareness Month, we look at the story of Jim Davies from his daughter, Sandra. Before his diagnosis, Jim was diagnosed with IBS.

Sandra Mahon

My dad was always my hero growing up. He lived in South Korea having moved there eight years before passing away. He phoned me almost every day. I knew something wasn’t right because I couldn’t get hold of him which was unusual. He was in hospital trying to get better, he didn’t tell us what was wrong. He had a diagnosis of IBS, pains under his rib cage and diarrhoea.

12 weeks later, he had his cancer diagnosis. He was offered a whipple procedure in South Korea. He refused this. Dad had private healthcare through is work at BP. My guess is he was scared. Instead, he travelled to New Orleans, a place he always wanted to see. He returned to work after this. Dad told me he would soil himself slightly, an orange coloured liquid. The symptoms were there.

Twenty-one days before he died, he came home, originally for just 10-days. The whole family was excited to see him again. At the airport, we were standing next to him. He was seated, and we did not recognise our own father, the weight loss was dramatic.

He couldn’t eat much, being sick when he did. Tomato soup is what he tolerated. Listening to him heaving was heartbreaking. But he’d come out, his trademark swagger, head held high claiming he was ok. He tried so hard to stay positive.

Dad stayed with me for 10 days before being admitted to hospital with acute upper abdominal pains. He visited our family GP on his return to Scotland, armed with a rucksack full of medical evidence in broken English. Our GP read some of it and confirmed dad had pancreatic cancer. I was with him at this appointment and I felt my world collapsing around me. Dad was my world, he always seemed fit & healthy. This was his first serious illness as an adult.

Dad had major surgery in Scotland. A stent had been fitted in South Korea and it was causing complications. The surgeons tried to remove it, but it was embedded. The surgeons could do nothing for him. He spent two days in ICU then HDU. In all, he was in hospital for 11 days, with 21 days spent with us in total.

My brother, younger sister & myself were with him every day, and his brother & sisters and niece Claire visited when they could. Everyone rallied around. The nurses allowed us to stay overnight. Dad was a born comedian and we had some good laughs, especially as he was full of morphine. He’d joke with the doctors: “Hey doctor, I hope you’ve got plenty of that stuff for me (morphine).” They’d just laugh at him and nod.

He tried so hard to be positive. The doctors told us he had a few days left. A few hours later, he passed away, surrounded by his loving family. His friends travelled from around the world for his funeral. He was 65-years young.

My life stood still for a very long time after I lost my dad. A light went out. I still get really low days nearly seven years later. The spread of his cancer is heartbreaking. I miss his voice so much.

The birth of my grandson brought a much-needed light back into my life. Made life worth living again. Grans little star.