In 2009 Fred was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He had a Whipple’s operation and is still recovering. He has developed a hernia on the site of the incision. He has a positive outlook and hopes that soon he will be well enough to play golf and swim again.
For two or three years Fred had an uncomfortable feeling when eating. He found it hard to eat because food seemed to get lodged in his food pipe; it seemed to back up into his throat. He often felt bloated. Sometimes Fred had burning pains in his chest and trouble sleeping. His doctor thought he had a hiatus hernia and gave him some Gaviscon. Fred had also been passing blood from his bottom, and he was being treated for haemorrhoids. At times he noticed that he had pale coloured diarrhoea.
In late February 2009 Fred had pains in his chest and he felt very bloated. His wife phoned the doctor, who called the paramedics. The paramedics thought that Fred was having a heart attack. In the ambulance Fred was sick and brought up blood. In hospital Fred was told that he hadnt had a heart attack. At this time his poo was dark coloured. He was kept in the hospital for three weeks for CT scans and other investigations. The doctors told him that he might have a problem with his bile duct. They transferred him to a specialist hospital for more investigations.
In the specialist hospital Fred had more scans and an endoscopy with an ultrasound. The doctor also did a biopsy. After this examination Fred was told that he had a tumour, which involved his bile duct, pancreas and stomach. The doctor recommended a Whipple’s operation. This was a very distressing and frightening time for Fred and his family.
In April 2009 Fred had the Whipple’s operation. He was in the intensive care unit for about two weeks. He was in a great deal of pain and reacted badly to the morphine. Tramadol seemed to help a bit, but Fred also reacted badly to this. Fred had intravenous fluids. He also had a naso-gastric tube, drains and a catheter. Fred started to eat and drink by mouth after about two weeks. After being in the intensive care unit Fred was transferred to the main ward. About a week later he went home, where he slowly got better.
Fred still has pain or discomfort where he has his surgery scar, and he also has a hernia. This hernia developed on the site of the incision about two months after the operation. He is having physiotherapy to try to strengthen his stomach muscles. Fred is gradually getting stronger. He takes Creon to help with his digestion, but he still gets a lot of wind and discomfort in his stomach and intestines. He finds that Movicol helps.
Fred had to give up his job due to his illness. This has led to money problems. Fred has found it hard to get any benefits. He lost some of the ones he was entitled to because he applied too late. This has all been very stressful. However, he has had great support from his family and friends and from a cancer support centre and from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
He has a positive outlook and hopes that soon he will be fit enough to play a round of golf and to go swimming again.
We spoke to Fred in 2010