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Tony - Interview 35

Age at interview: 66
Age at diagnosis: 65
Brief Outline: Tony was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2009. In February 2010 he had a Whipple's operation. Since then he has been having chemotherapy. Apart from some abdominal pain, which started recently, he feels well and enjoys life.
Background: Tony is a recycling operative. He is not working at the moment due to illness. He is married and has two children. Ethnic background/Nationality: White British.

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In October 2009 Tony started to be sick once or twice a week. He usually vomited at the end of the day. Soon he was being sick every day. He had no other symptoms apart from weight loss. Eventually he went to see his GP, who referred him to the hospital. However, the appointment was for 13 weeks time, so Tony went back to his GP and complained that he would be dead if he had to wait 13 weeks, so his GP sent him straight to the hospital. 
 
Tony was admitted to hospital for investigations. He had an ultrasound scan and a CT scan. Just before Christmas Tony had an endoscopy, during which a stent was fitted to keep his bile duct open. The consultant told Tony the good news that the stent would solve the problem of his sickness, but the bad news was that Tony had pancreatic cancer. This was shocking news for Tony and for the rest of the family. 
 
Tony left hospital feeling much better. He did not feel sick anymore and he returned to work. He was readmitted to hospital in February 2010 for a Whipple’s operation, which went well. He had about three weeks in hospital and then went home. 
 
In April 2010 Tony started chemotherapy. He has now been having chemotherapy for about three months (three weeks of treatment and then one week off). He has had very few side effects, apart from feeling tired and sick at times. One day in July he developed a thrombosis, a blood clot, in his arm. His arm was swollen and painful. Tony had to be admitted to hospital for a few days for a scan and for treatment. He was given antibiotics and anticoagulant tablets and the swelling in his arm went down. 
 
Tony hopes to stop the chemotherapy soon. He has recently developed some abdominal pain, which he keeps under control by taking gabapentin. Occasionally he also takes Oramorph. He also takes Creon to help with digestion, and he takes cyclizine and domperidone to prevent sickness. Tony feels well most of the time. He hopes he will be able to return to work soon. 
 
Tony was interviewed for Healthtalk in 2010
 
 

Tony was sick every evening after supper, just before bed. He lost over a stone in weight before...

Tony was sick every evening after supper, just before bed. He lost over a stone in weight before...

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I can go back to ’09, roughly November, no a month before, September, October. I was starting to be sick once or twice a week. After that it got daily. Every time I seemed to go to the top of the stairs I was sick. Not being one for going very often to the doctors I thought well I’d better go and see what’s happening. And I went to the doctors and told him I’d lost a stone and a half in weight, and was being sick daily. He said he would make an appointment for me, and the appointment comes, says 13 weeks, and I went back the following day and said, “I’ll be dead before 13 weeks.” I said, “Because I’m, I’m being so sick.” 
 
Did you have any pain?
 
No. 
 
No?
 
Er no pain, no, just feeling sick of an evening. You know, I couldn’t understand why. I think it must have been my last meal was always my main meal, and I think that got to here, and by the time I went to bed, which would be half past ten, eleven o’clock, I’d probably had another cup of tea, and a snack, and by the time I walked the stairs it, that was it, I was, I don’t know whether the stairs triggered it off, I don’t know. But I just made the toilet bowl every time I got to the top of the stairs.
 
 

Tony did not look at the internet for more information about his operation, but his family went...

Tony did not look at the internet for more information about his operation, but his family went...

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Did you look anywhere else for information about the pancreas?
 
No, no, no. No, never, never looked on no webs or nothing. My daughter did. She, she went through it and she was telling me. I said, “Look, I’m going, I’m having it done and that’s all there’s to it.” So, I think they were more wound up than me. They give me books and that, I said, “I’m not reading them. I’m going in, not knowing and whatever they do is whatever they’re doing.” I think you can frighten yourself looking at all that stuff because you don’t understand it anyhow.
 
 

The doctors answered all Tony’s questions. He took his wife and daughter to the consultations and...

The doctors answered all Tony’s questions. He took his wife and daughter to the consultations and...

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Did you get enough information from the doctors when you were in hospital?
 
Anything I asked about, I got information, you know, they just told me everything I asked you know. If I wanted to know anything it was there, and, “What are my chances like now?” And they said, “Oh you know, you’ve had the operation, as long”, you know, they won’t operate on you unless you’re strong enough. That is obvious you know, they, they do every test they can to see as you’re as, well I said as fit as I was. And they said, you know, there’s no problem with me at all. I’m not overweight or nothing like that, and everything is ticking for me, I’ve got everything going for me so. Yeah, you know I, everything I asked they told me, or, if I didn’t ask my daughter or the wife did. Because sometimes you forget things don’t you when you’re, I’m forgetting a damn site more now. They said you will tend to forget things and they’re not joking. I do forget things you know.
 
 

Tony’s company did not pay him while he was sick. He had to manage on Statutory Sick Pay, which...

Tony’s company did not pay him while he was sick. He had to manage on Statutory Sick Pay, which...

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And when you became ill you were still working weren’t you?
 
I was still working, I was,
 
When did you have to give up work?
 
I gave up work a day before my operation. Yes, maybe, maybe a couple of days, only a couple of days. I said well you know, I want to be at work. I’ve still got my holidays when I go back.
 
And have the company been good about paying you?
 
I don’t get paid no. We’re a mean company. I don’t get paid. I think my sick has stopped now so…
 
So can you get some benefit from the government?
 
No I don’t think so. I don’t even get anything now, I think you get sick payment for six months only, and I think I’ve pretty well used them from February, February so we’re going, March, April, May, June, July, oh I might have another month yet, might, I’m not sure.
 
Do you mind me asking how much you get from the government?
 
About seventy pounds. Seventy pound a week. I think that’s the sick. Nearly seventy pounds a week.
 
So that must have been quite difficult? Going from regular pay,
 
Oh don’t forget I’ve retired, so I get my pension, my old age pension. So I can manage. You know it’s no good worrying about money because that’s the last thing you want to worry about. The thing is you worry about getting well.
 
You know and let’s see. They’re not going to see you die on the street are they? You know so, yes I mean the wife’s still working, I’ve got my old age pension and my seventy pound, I shall hopefully be back to work, I mean I should be retired so I’ve got to learn to live on my pension and whatever else I’ve got come in, so....
 
 

Tony had to drink a litre of fluid before his CT scan. The radiographer also injected a dye into...

Tony had to drink a litre of fluid before his CT scan. The radiographer also injected a dye into...

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Oh to have a CT scan is, to me was absolutely nothing. The nurse said that it can make you feel if you want to wee, or it can make you very, can’t think of the word, and anyhow you just lay on your back, or whatever they’re going to do you. You go into a big dome type of thing, and it’s nothing, it’s just like a flashing thing is going round you all the time and when the, when you come back out they tell you to breathe out I think or in, they don’t tell you to breathe anything going in, it’s just coming out, hold your breath I think for a couple of seconds. And that’s it. And they ask you, “Did you feel if you want to wee?” I said, “No”. “Or did you feel something else?” And I said to the nurse, “Well if you’d been in there with me,” I said, “It might have, it might have been what you’re telling me,” I can’t think of the word but no, the CT, the CT scan is absolutely nothing at all.
 
Did they inject some dye?
 
Before the CT scan you have to,
 
Or do you have to drink something?
 
On the one occasion they did do the dye.
 
In the arm?
 
Yes, in my arm again there. And when she injected it the blood squirted all over her.
 
Oh dear.
 
And she asked me if I was on thinners, I said, “No.” She said well you’ve got very good veins and she said, “I’d better change my tunic because nobody else will want to see me like this.” And they done that and prior to going into the scan you have to drink a, I think it’s about a litre of orange juice, or blackcurrant or whatever you want, but it’s laced with aniseed.
 
Oh golly. That is the hardest part of the job, trying to drink that within an hour. You have to, you drink the first one very quickly, and then you’ve got the rest of the jug within the hour. And if you want to go to the toilet you’ve got to go within the first hour, the first half hour. But to drink the, me, I’m not a big drinker so to, to be laced with aniseed is another thing on it’s own.
 
And everything, as I say blackcurrant or it’s all, all tastes of aniseed anyhow so, you know so, that is a thing just before you, you go into the scan you’ve, you’ve had that into you. And then the first scan I had I didn’t have the dye. The second scan I did.
 
 

Tony said that his life was as it was before he had his operation. However, he missed his...

Tony said that his life was as it was before he had his operation. However, he missed his...

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How is life now? 
 
My life is like it was before I had the operation. No different whatsoever. It’s just that I’m not going to work until I’m ready you know. And if I have to live on what I live on, if you know I can’t go back to work then I accept I can’t go back to work. I’m finding enough to do, you know, but I miss a number of colleagues at work, and I haven’t been out so many Friday nights for my usual drink which is only a pint and orange juice, because I always drive anyhow. So I drink very little. 
 
Can you eat? Can you eat more or less what you want?
 
I eat everything, everything. Every mortal thing you can put in front of me I eat. All bar broad beans, I don’t like broad beans.
 
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