Richard was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009. He had chemotherapy followed by chemoradiotherapy. In April 2010 a CT scan found small marks on his liver. He has had an MRI scan and is waiting for results. He feels tired at times but otherwise well.
In March 2009 Richard had tummy pain, particularly at night. He tried some over-the-counter remedies, but these did not help. After about three weeks he went to his GP. The GP thought it might be an ulcer but a test showed that this was not the case.
Richard then had a blood test and an ultrasound. These showed that there was something wrong with his liver function and that his pancreas looked abnormal. Richard then saw a gastroenterologist ( a doctor of the digestive system) who ruled out hepatitis.
In June 2009 Richard had a CT scan, which suggested that he had pancreatic cancer. A surgeon delivered the bad news, and told Richard that surgery wouldn’t be possible unless chemotherapy or radiotherapy could shrink the tumour first. This was because the tumour was very close to the artery going to the liver.
Richard had two failed endoscopies. Then he became jaundiced. He had a third endoscopy and didnt eat for 24 hours before. The surgeon wanted to put a stent into his bile duct to relieve the jaundice, but was unable to.
The next day the surgeon had to do the stent with surgery. A biopsy was also taken, guided by ultrasound. All these procedures were done with sedation so were not painful. The biopsy showed that it was pancreatic cancer. Richard was told that he had cancer of the head of his pancreas, which was locally advanced;.
Towards the end of September 2009 Richard started chemotherapy (infusions of gemcitabine and tablets of capecitabine). He was taking part in a clinical trial but he developed an itchy rash from the chemotherapy and had a problem with the skin on his feet. He also felt sick at times.
He also developed a very rare side effect of capecitabine. The skin covering his scrotum peeled away, which was very painful. This cleared up after about a week. The dose of the capecitabine was reduced and he did not get this side effect again. During this time Richard found his specialist cancer nurse very helpful. She could reassure him when he was worried about side effects of treatment and she could make appointments quickly.
In December 2009 Richard felt very thirsty and had to pee a lot. His GP sent him to A & E, where a doctor said that he had Type 2 diabetes due to his tumour. After that, Richard had to be careful about what he ate, and he now takes tablets for his diabetes. He also started taking the drug Creon, to help his body absorb fat.
After the first two cycles of chemotherapy Richard had a CT scan which showed that the tumour had not grown or spread. Having seen the CT scan, Richard’s oncologist (cancer doctor) suggested chemoradiotherapy, so Richard withdrew from the trial. He had one more cycle of chemotherapy and then in January 2010 started combined chemotherapy with radiotherapy.
After the first two weeks of radiotherapy Richard felt very tired, nauseated and sometimes had tummy pain. After the last session of radiotherapy Richard had another CT scan. It showed that the tumour had not grown but hadnt got any smaller, so surgery was not an option. The scan also revealed some marks on his liver, Richard had an MRI scan and is waiting for the results.
Richard thinks that the best way to treat his disease is by normal medical treatment. He also believes that people should have an open mind about alternative treatments and he has used hypnotherapy to help him give up smoking. He thinks that hypnotherapy can also help him to cleanse his body and that it is a means of healing. He is convinced that his mental attitude towards his disease is very important. He is also sure that his diet is central to his treatment and his well being. Richard also believes that a being; greater than himself protects him.
Radiotherapy finished at the end of February, and now, eight weeks later he still has pains in his stomach area from time to time. He also feels very tired, and sometimes needs a short sleep after lunch. However, Richard feels very positive about his treatment and his chances of beating the disease.
We met Richard in 2010