Interview 79

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 she had more wind than usual and was burping. She also noticed that when this happened she felt nauseous, and she passed an abnormal putty coloured stool. This happened over a period of about five months.

After Christmas 1995 Elaine went to see her GP, who referred her to a gastroenterologist, who sent her for an ultrasound scan. The scan looked abnormal so Elaine then had a CT scan, which was inconclusive because of technical failure, and an MRI scan. The scans revealed a tumour in the middle of the pancreas, slightly more towards the tail. A week later, on January 19th 1996 Elaine had an operation to remove most of her pancreas and her spleen. She recovered quickly and although she was tired at first she did not 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 discourage any recurrence. She thinks this went on for about three months. She felt a bit nauseated at times but did not 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. She decided that she did not want to be followed up regularly because at that time the radiologist told her that if there was a recurrence there was nothing doctors could do anyway. Elaine had decided that she did not want chemotherapy because results of chemotherapy were not good and she valued quality of life. She decided to live each day to the full as if it were her last day, and even today she believes that that is important.

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.

Elaine was interviewed in 2010

Elaine developed diabetes when her body could no longer make insulin to regulate sugar metabolism…

Age at interview 73

Gender Female

Age at diagnosis 59