Pancreatic cancer awareness month

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November is Pancreatic cancer awareness month. I really don’t know much about this cancer. Only that my father in law has it. I know some of the symptoms and that’s it.

I’m also a bit wary writing this cause it’s not my story to tell. But it’s a story that others might want to read.

I really wanted to write this post to raise more awareness. But how am I suppose to raise awareness on a cancer I know hardly anything about. So I found the following information on the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Genome Initiative (APGI) website:

Pancreatic cancer occurs when damaged, or abnormal, cells grow out of control within the pancreas. Unfortunately pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, due to the location of the pancreas deep within the abdomen. The cancer can remain undetected until it grows large enough to affect or spread to nearby organs.

The docs are trying to find a cure. If not a cure then a way to have earlier detection. They are trying to find some kind of treatment that will work. My father in law was on a chemo trial for this cancer but had to stop after two treatments. The cancer is just too aggressive and was growing whether we liked it or not.

He had his major operation earlier in the year called a Whipple procedure (Pancreaticoduodenectomy)  which is the removal of the head of the pancreas, part of the duodenum, a portion of the bile duct, the gallbladder (if not already previously removed), and part of the stomach. Enough of the pancreas is left to allow the pancreas to still produce digestive enzymes and hormones.  Then a full round of chemo. Only we found out his cancer had already spread to his liver.

I still remember that call from my husband almost exactly this time last year. That stiffness I felt and that dizzy feeling.

His only my father in law some people would say but his not. His been apart of my life since I was a little girl. He is a nice man a good man. He has taken care of us and still wants to take care of us even when he has this horrible disease.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the highest killers but one of the lowest to receive funding for research. The same with liver cancer. The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer in Australia is 5% for males and 6% for females. The high mortality and poor survival rates for pancreatic cancer haven’t improved for nearly forty years. Other cancers have improved their survival rate through improved diagnostic methods, earlier detection and different treatments, but because of poor funding to this particular cancer they haven’t been able to advance in that area.

There are about 2,500 diagnoses of pancreatic cancer each year. 1 in 122 males  under the age of 75 will be affected while 1 in 165 for women. *

There are symptoms to this cancer. But by the time these symptoms show up its to late and the cancer is huge and most probably spread to nearby organs. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Changed bowel motions – either diarrhoea or severe constipation
  • Yellowish skin and eyes, and dark urine – these signs are caused by a condition called jaundice, which occurs if the tumour blocks the bile duct into the digestive system.

The jaundice is what made us know that something wasn’t right in my father in law. He didn’t have any other symptoms until it was too late. Which is what usually happens with Pancreatic Cancer.

Although the diagnoses for my father in law isn’t a great one hopefully someone can benefit from earlier detection and better treatment.

I have looked through the shopping centres to buy a Purple ribbon just like this one to support Pancreatic cancer awareness month……..



but can not find them anywhere.

So if you do find one please buy one to support the APGI who are researching pancreatic cancer at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. Or you can donate by clicking on the purple ribbon in my side bar to the right.


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  1. Megan barnes says:

    Thank you for an amazing piece. I lost my beautiful father last year to this insidious disease in just 120 days and am fighting in his name for more awareness for the APGI and Garvan Institute.

    Take care of your beautiful Father in Law and remember you can never say “I Love you” too many times


    • Thanks Megan. I have already signed your petition. I am number 493 and my sister in law has as well. Good luck with it all.

  2. My goodness those statistics are scary. Especially that there has been no change or advancements in so long :-(

    I hope an awareness is raised. You raised mine just now.

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