William - Interview 03
In February 2009 William had jaundice. In April a stent was inserted into his bile duct, and the doctor did a biopsy of his pancreas. Cancer was diagnosed. In June, he had a Whipple's operation. He is now having a six month course of chemotherapy.
William is married and has 2 children. He is a lorry driver (not working due to ill health). Ethnic background/Nationality: White British.
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In February 2009 William’s brother died from a heart attack. William’s GP asked him to have an ECG and some blood tests, just to make sure that his heart was healthy. His GP asked him to repeat the blood tests and then told him that he had jaundice. William saw a consultant, who told him that the jaundice was probably due to an allergic reaction to some penicillin that he had been taking.
Three weeks later William’s jaundice was worse. He looked yellow and felt itchy. William was not in pain but he was losing weight and felt very tired. He lost more than two stone.
A doctor told him to stop work and planned some tests but he had to wait three weeks for them. He had an ultrasound test and then a CT scan, but they didn’t show anything wrong. William left hospital but he readmitted himself a day later because he felt so ill.
The hospital doctor did an endoscopy under local anaesthetic. William was also given a sedative and he fell asleep. The doctor put a stent into the bile duct so that the bile could drain from William’s liver. At the same time the doctor noticed that there was a growth on William’s pancreas and did a biopsy. The next day the doctor told William that he had the growth. She said that she thought it could be removed with surgery.
A group of doctors discussed William’s condition as he lay in bed and William heard a junior doctor mention that his condition was ‘terminal’, which was a great shock. The consultant told William that he thought that the growth could be removed, and he gave William some hope that the situation was not as bad as he had heard, and sent him home to try to gain weight while he waited for major surgery.
William saw the surgeon who was going to operate. The surgeon explained the options and what a Whipple’s operation would involve. William decided to have the surgery. The operation took place a few weeks later. It took over seven hours and was more complicated than expected. After the surgery William was in a lot of pain and had to take morphine. He started drinking and eating small amounts of food about seven days later.
William and his wife went back to see the surgeon, who told him the upsetting news that it was unlikely that he would live more than five years.
He was offered chemotherapy and told and said that there was a chance that it would cure the cancer. William started chemotherapy and was just over halfway through a six month course when we spoke to him. He has chemotherapy every Wednesday for three weeks and then has a week off treatment for his blood to recover. The treatment does not make him feel sick but he feels very tired.
Recently William became ill with a liver infection. He had to return to hospital to have intravenous antibiotics. At the same time he was given two units of blood. He discovered that people who have had a Whipple’s operation are more susceptible to liver infections because they no longer have a valve at the end of the bile duct.
Three weeks ago William had a CT scan which looked good. He will finish his chemotherapy in January 2010 and will then have another CT scan to make sure there are no more cancerous cells.
William takes one day at a time and tries not to think about the distant future. He still experiences pain as a result of the Whipple’s operation. He takes tramadol and paracetamol for the pain. His bowels have also been affected and he has discomfort due to wind.
We spoke to William in 2009.