Health

Pancreatic cancer: Woman who lost her husband to the disease reveals symptoms to spot


Pancreatic cancer can be deadly. The untimely death of her beloved husband, Mark, had Sarah cloaked in the darkness of grief. With time, came healing. And, now, she wants to help others get the early treatment they may need to have a better chance of survival.

They didn’t hear back about the scan, so Mark eased Sarah’s concerns by telling her: “If the hospital aren’t worried, then we shouldn’t be worried.”

“I’ll never forget the night Mark woke me up crying,” Sarah paused. “It was September, and he looked at me and said, ‘Sarah, this is serious. I’m not going to get through this.'”

Taking it upon herself to get to the root of the problem, she called the GP to get Mark another referral.

Back at the hospital, this time in October, a junior consultant surpassed Sarah’s expectations.

A quick glance on the scan revealed a mass on the neck of Mark’s pancreas, and that’s when things started to speed up.

Nearly five months they had been waiting for a diagnosis. Sarah felt like screaming.

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Plans to have a life-saving operation in November were cancelled when a routine MRI scan revealed the cancer had spread to Mark’s liver – it was terminal.

Frustrated, horrified, crushed and heartbroken, Sarah felt like her time with Mark had been “robbed”.

Ringing in the New Year with teary eyes, the couple knew it’d be their last year together.

Mustering all the strength they had to make the most of their limited time, they travelled to Washington, America, where Mark proposed.

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Marrying on Mark’s 50th birthday, on June 2nd, the couple then decided to take one last trip on a cruise.

Returning to land in late August, Mark sadly passed away on September 15.

Battling with her sense of loss, Sarah tried to go back to work, but she “couldn’t face it without him”.

Last year, in November 2019, Sarah felt “ready to do something to remember Mark”.

“I did Challenge 24 for Pancreatic Cancer UK and walked a mile a day, for 24 days,” she said.

Proud of her man for saving lives throughout his career, his helping hand extends beyond the grave, as his story raises awareness of the deadly disease.

“I’m so proud of everything that he did,” Sarah said.

This September, Sarah hopes to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer UK by jumping 50,000 feet out of a plane.

And with the coronavirus pandemic gripping the nation, Sarah feels ready to help out by returning to her former role.

For those interested in the symptoms of pancreatic cancer, the NHS lists them as follows:

  • Pain in the back or stomach area – which may come and go at first and is often worse when lying down or after eating
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice) – it also may cause dark yellow or orange pee, pale-coloured poo and itchy skin

Other possible symptoms of pancreatic cancer include:

  • Feeling sick and being sick
  • Changes in bowel movements (diarrhoea or constipation)
  • Fever and shivering
  • Indigestion
  • Blood clots
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The Pancreatic Cancer UK Support Line is staffed by the charity’s team of pancreatic cancer specialist nurses.

They can provide individual specialist information about pancreatic cancer, treatment options and information about managing symptoms and side effects.

The service is free and completely confidential. To speak to a nurse call: 0808 801 0707 or email: nurse@pancreaticcancer.org.uk



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