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By Tristan Harris Thursday 06 March 2014 Updated: 10/03 23:33
A BROMSGROVE couple want residents to help them raise awareness of pancreatic cancer.
Lyn Winters, the fund-raising manager of the Primrose Hospice, contacted The Standard about the disease after her husband Chris was diagnosed with it in November.
Lyn and Chris spent a couple of weeks in France in August last year when Chris began to lose weight and was drinking an unhealthy amount of juice. He was also very tired.
One Saturday evening they arrived home and received a call to say Chris’ sister was gravely ill.
On that Sunday they gathered to say their final words to her and Chris was understandably devastated. His weight loss continued and it became apparent his symptoms were not just caused by the shock.
He made an appointment to see his GP the day before the funeral, thinking he could be diabetic and was told not to worry too much and to come back when his life had regained some of its normality.
On the day of the funeral, as they were about to leave, the doctor called and said it was important he went to the surgery that day, which he did.
He was diagnosed with diabetes and was given drugs to control it.
Lyn said: “At least we felt relieved, but given what we know today perhaps we should have questioned that initial diagnosis.
“We got on with our lives happily in the knowledge that whilst diabetes isn’t the best, it is manageable.
“Chris was managing his diet and even taking some well overdue exercise - things were looking good.”
Then in November, Chris was working away from home and called Lyn to say his skin and eyes had turned yellow.
He came home that morning and saw a doctor that evening and, after stopping his medication, he was advised to go for a scan.
Within a week, he had it and a consultation with a specialist who told him it was most likely pancreatic cancer that was borderline operable - the only cure.
“In one breath our lives had been shattered.
“Since diagnosis in November, Chris has endured various procedures and is currently undergoing a pretty toxic regime of chemotherapy in the hope that the tumour will shrink and that surgery will become an option.”
Chris was due to have his fifth chemotherapy session yesterday (Thursday) and a scan which could reveal their fate is scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday).
“All our hopes are for surgery - we know that in itself is a major undertaking but the other option is pretty much unthinkable.
“We have to believe surgery is possible,” added Lyn.
Shocking statistics show only three per cent of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survive for five years - a survival rate which has gone unchanged for more than 40 years.
The average life expectancy after diagnosis is four to six months and only 11 per cent are diagnosed in time to have surgery, which is the only cure.
Pancreatic cancer is the fifth biggest cancer killer in the UK - 22 people a day die from the disease.
Despite that, pancreatic cancer receives only one per cent of research funding.
Another worrying figure is that half of cases are diagnosed in A&E.
Following their experience, Lyn and Chris want more people to be aware of pancreatic cancer and its symptoms and to ‘Think Shrink’ tomorrow (Saturday) - the day of Chris’ scan - as they believe in positive energy and it being able to support pancreatic cancer patients.
There is also an online petition calling for more funding and awareness to be provided on pancreatic cancer.
Readers can visit http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/48389 to sign that and offer their support.
More information on pancreatic cancer is available at the www.pancreaticcanceraction.org and www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk websites.
To follow Chris’ story, go to www.facebook.com/chrislwinters or @chrislwinters on Twitter.
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