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The 17th of May 2018 is the day that our world changed forever. It is the day that we were told Norman had the big C – Cancer. There are a lot of Pancreatic Cancer stories out there and here is ours in hopes it will resonate and help.
Of all the other days that came after that, (and there were only 270 days after this until Norman died), none of them had the same impact on us than learning he “might” have cancer.
In reaching out to others about their Pancreatic Cancer stories, I feel that ours might give some relief to others dealing with a Pancreatic Cancer diagnosis.
Our Pancreatic Cancer Story
It was a crisp May morning, cool, and filled with sunshine. They are my favorite types of mornings and as Norman was going to take the family car to his doctor’s appointment, the kids and I walked to school.
After I dropped them off and started the walk home, I called Norman… just for chit chat, as you do with your partner. There was nothing particularly remarkable about that call except that Norman was worried. He was really worried, as he had been so lethargic and sick. I agreed, but was upbeat. After all he was seeing doctors, and I had no doubt that they would fix him. I do remember saying, ‘Well whatever it is we will do what is necessary for you to get better, it will be OK”.
And that was it, until the phone rang. It was a friend, who also worked as a nurse at the health center. I greeted her enthusiastically but I could hear in her voice sadness and asked, “What’s wrong?”
“I am sitting here with Norman.”
Me: “Oh no, what is wrong?”
“He has just received the news he might have cancer.”
Silence from me. Then, “Oh no.” More silence.
Me: “What type of cancer?”
Friend: “Pancreatic cancer.”
Me: “Is that a bad one?”
There was talk of logistics as she didn’t want him to drive home and wanted me to come and pick him up. Soon after the call I was on Google, as I was for the rest of the 9 months, looking for answers that the medical profession were reticent to answer. What did a Pancreatic Cancer diagnosis mean?
There it was in black and white. Only 20% of Pancreatic Cancer diagnoses survive the first year, the average survival rate is between 5 and 9 months. It is not only a bad cancer; it is one of the worst. Worse still, as it is such an aggressive cancer and not particularly well-known, very few advances have been made in its treatment. Both Steve Jobs and Patrick Swayze had Pancreatic Cancer; and both money and fame couldn’t help them.
By the time Norman got home, I had a pretty fair idea that it was an earth-shattering thing to get a Pancreatic Cancer diagnosis. Honestly, I chose to believe he didn’t have it. We hugged, and numbly talked, right through the day into the night.
When I chose the photos for this post what is most remarkable is that despite that being the day that everything changed, we continued living our life much the same as before. (On the outside at least.)
Everything we did for Norman was the very best we could at the time. I desperately sought guidance from others who were similar to us, who could provide advice on the cancer journey, for those that didn’t want to simply follow the medical model. The thoughts I provide here are intended for someone who was like me; desperately looking for other ideas. If we all share our Pancreatic Cancer Stories we might help someone in the future.
What Would I Do Differently If I Got A Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis?
- Take it seriously. Don’t ignore it or pretend it wasn’t happening.
- Clear the decks. Radically stop working and dedicate myself at that moment to finding solutions. Honestly, we tried but only at half pace.
- Realize that potentially we only had +/- 270 days. To profoundly understand that health wise, he was in the best health and to enjoy it then and there.
- Share Pancreatic Cancer Stories/ or Solutions.
This is the thoughts and musings of a cancer carer, who wants to share. By no means does it constitute any official advice, medical, psychological or otherwise. For us, the MAIN thing that lacked in our whole Pancreatic Cancer experience was human guidance of how to look outside the square or how to question the system. Most of our information came from Google, and if you find us maybe these Pancreatic Cancer Stories will help you. Maybe they won’t. But whatever happens, wishing you the best of luck and a huge hug of solidarity.
Title photo; the amazing Nic Duncan. I called Nic just a couple of days after the diagnosis, she made our photo shoot happen and then remained in contact right up until today. Thank you Nic XX
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