Lesley was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2008. She had a Whipple’s operation and then chemotherapy. In September 2009, a CT scan showed that it had spread to her liver. Lesley still leads an active life. She takes morphine for her pain.
In October 2008 Lesley had pain in her back and just below her breast area. She also noticed that her urine looked a bit like undiluted orange juice, and her stools looked pale. Lesley was also losing weight. She thought she might have a urinary infection so she went to see her GP, who did some blood tests and sent her for a CT scan. The scan revealed a blocked bile duct. Lesley felt worse and looked jaundiced. She went into hospital, where the doctor inserted a stent through an endoscope, to keep the bile duct open, so that bile could drain from the liver.
In October 2008 Lesley had pain in her back and just below her breast area. She also noticed that her pee looked a bit like undiluted orange juice, and her poo looked pale. Lesley was also losing weight. She thought she might have a urine infection, so she went to see her GP who did some blood tests and sent her for a CT scan. The scan revealed a blocked bile duct. Lesley felt worse and looked jaundiced. She went into hospital, where the doctor put in a stent through an endoscope, to keep the bile duct open, so that bile could drain from the liver.
Lesley then had an MRI scan. She went to another hospital to get the results and only realised that she had cancer when she was introduced to a Macmillan nurse. In January 2009 Lesley had keyhole surgery so that the surgeon could look inside her abdomen (tummy) to see if the cancer had spread. The cancer was only in the pancreas so on 22nd January 2009 Lesley had a Whipple’s operation.
The operation took about nine hours. Lesley had an epidural so when she woke up, she didn’t feel any pain. The nurses and physiotherapists cared for her well and she was soon out of bed. She started to eat and drink again after about five days. Lesley stayed in hospital about a week and a half and then went home.
The district nurse called at her house to change the dressing on the incision. Her recovery went well and she started chemotherapy. She had gemcitabine through a drip and tablets of capecitabine. This was part of the ESPAC 4 trial. Lesley was sick the first time she had chemotherapy but had some medicines that stopped any serious side effects after that. She had the chemotherapy just as a precaution, because there was no evidence of any spread of the disease.
Lesley went back to work after about six months. Soon afterwards, in September 2009, she had another CT scan. This scan showed that there were some metastases (secondary tumours) in her liver. The doctor told Lesley that there was nothing more they could do to cure the cancer. This was a big shock for Lesley and she felt devastated. She found it very hard to tell her family about it. It was especially difficult to tell her partner and the children the sad news.
Since then, the family has given Lesley great support. She has a swollen liver, which is painful, so she takes morphine tablets. She has a palliative care nurse, who calls every week and who helps when necessary. The nurse helps Lesley get the medicines she needs. She also answers questions. Lesley has told the nurse that when she becomes really ill she does not want to stay at home. She would prefer to go to a hospice or to the local hospital. Lesley is making memory boxes for her children.
After Lesley received the bad news about her terminal illness her partner asked her to get married. They had a happy wedding day. They are now planning a short holiday.
Now Lesley takes painkillers and Creon tablets to help with her digestion. She also takes anti-inflammatory tablets because of her swollen liver.
We spoke to Lesley in 2009