Elaine was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 1995. The surgeon removed most of her pancreas and her spleen. Elaine also had some radiotherapy. Since then she has been very well indeed and only takes Metformin for mild diabetes.
In 1995, when Elaine was aged 59, she noticed that on three occasions that she had more wind than usual and was burping. She also noticed that when this happened she felt sick, and her poo was putty coloured. This happened over a period of about five months.
After Christmas 1995 Elaine went to see her GP, who referred her to a gastroenterologist. She had an ultrasound scan which looked abnormal. Elaine then had a CT scan, which was inconclusive because of technical failure, and an MRI scan. The scans showed that Elaine had a tumour in the middle of her pancreas, slightly more towards the tail.
A week later Elaine had an operation to remove most of her pancreas and her spleen. She recovered quickly and, although she was tired at first, she didn’t feel much pain. She took antibiotics for a while after the surgery because she no longer had a spleen.
Then Elaine had some radiotherapy to stop the cancer coming back. She thinks this went on for about three months. She felt a bit sick at times but didn’t want to take any medicines to relieve this side effect.
After the operation, the surgeon told Elaine that she probably had about two years to live. The radiologist told her that if the cancer returned there was nothing doctors could do, so she decided not to go back for follow-ups. She also chose quality of life over chemotherapy. She decided to live each day to the full as if it were her last day.
Now Elaine leads a full and busy life. She does not have any symptoms and feels well. In relation to the pancreatic cancer she only takes Metformin, which is a drug for Type 2 diabetes. This may be because the remaining part of her pancreas does not produce enough insulin. Elaine appreciates life and says that, in some ways, having cancer has had a positive effect on her life. It has made her appreciate every day.
We spoke to Elaine in 2010