Peter's pancreatic cancer story

G’day, I’m Peter. I’m aged 64 and I live in Jamberoo, NSW. I had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy to treat pancreatic cancer.

Peter's pancreatic cancer story

"I felt sickly for about six months, and my GP prescribed heartburn medication and an ulcer test. Some months later I developed dark urine, itchy skin and floating, strong smelling stools. I researched the symptoms and was convinced I had cholestasis, so I went back to my GP and demanded a blood test.

I’m glad I persisted in following up my symptoms. The next morning, I received a call from the doctor requesting I immediately attend the surgery. My blood test results were not good, and I was sent for an ultrasound and CT scan which resulted in me attending hospital that afternoon. A gastroenterologist did a surgical investigation and discovered a gnarly tumour at the duodenum blocking my bile and pancreatic duct. He partially removed it and inserted two stents."

“Cancer has made me realise that you can be here today and gone tomorrow. If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.” 

- Peter, pancreatic cancer patient

"Pathology confirmed I had pancreatic cancer and needed a Whipple procedure. The next month, I had a seven-hour operation, removing the bottom portion of my stomach, gallbladder, duodenum, head of the pancreas and some 20 cm of small intestine. I spent a harrowing 17 days in hospital (ICU and general ward) recovering. There has been a significant impact on my gastrointestinal system and diet, and I lost 23 kgs.

Because I had five cancerous lymph nodes, I was prescribed 12 rounds of chemotherapy at the Wollongong Cancer Clinic. By the sixth infusion, the chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy I was experiencing was intensifying. They stopped the drug causing this side effect, but the neuropathy worsened, and continues to be debilitating. It feels like my hands and feet are caked in dried mud, and there is tingling and weakness.

Finally, I had 28 treatments of targeted radiation therapy, daily Monday to Friday also in Wollongong, supported by oral chemotherapy.

Going forward, I’ll have regular three-monthly CT scans for at least a year, then at reduced intervals thereafter for several years.  I was informed the statistical data is that only 10% of Whipple patients live past five years. I’m going to be one of those 10%."

“I think cancer attracts the ‘best of the best’ out of all the various medical professions. The health professionals I saw were so professional, supportive, diligent, and most of all, downright good souls.”

- Peter, pancreatic cancer patient

Peter's story helped shape the state-wide Cancer Plan

The NSW Cancer Plan sets out a coordinated and collaborative approach to cancer control with the aim of lessening the burden of cancer in NSW.

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