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World Pancreatic Cancer Day - 16th Nov 17 - Get Purple and Save Lives


My name is Elliot Masters; I work closely with Kent Teach for their partners Schools Personnel Service.  I would like to share with you my personal experience of Pancreatic Cancer, and information on how you can get involved with World Pancreatic Cancer Day on the 16th November 2017. 

I am not a medical professional; nor am I trying to upset or scare anybody, my main aim is to raise awareness, so others do not have to suffer.

Cancer is something that has touched many families, and everyone’s experience is different. However, I am sure we can all agree on one thing, it’s devastating for all involved, and it is the one thing that doesn’t discriminate. Young, old, male, female, it can affect any of us at any point in our lives, directly or indirectly. 

If someone had said to me 12 months ago ‘Elliot, what do you know about pancreatic cancer?’ My reply would have been one of surprise, and probably sheer ignorance. 12 months on, I have found out first-hand how devastating this disease can be.

On a summer’s day in July 2016, the day started off as any other. Mum had been diagnosed earlier that year with diabetes, and had an appointment later that afternoon to discuss some pain she was experiencing. Mum thought it was due to the insulin she was taking for her diabetes, and knew something wasn’t quite right. That day, her life, along with mine and the rest of my families, became what can only be described as a ‘ticking clock’.

Mum was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which had spread to her liver. This is known as stage 4 cancer, which in pancreatic cancer terms meant a life expectancy of 3 to 6 months. 

You have so many questions: How could this happen? Why has this happened? What caused this? When?

Over the next 8 months, we all remained in a state of what I call ‘Groundhog Day’, filled with chemotherapy, medication, appointments, with each day seeming like the previous day. Family and friends were making weekly trips from Scotland, with others flying from France and Australia for one last time. Even though you choose not to recognise the significance of those trips, you know deep down that this is the last time you will all be together as a family. 

The support received from the Pilgrims Hospice in East Kent, was nothing short of amazing, with them making Mum’s remaining days and weeks the best that anyone could have wished for.

On 12th March 2017, my Mum, Denise Masters, lost her battle with pancreatic cancer, fighting until the very end. Mum was lucky; she exceeded the 3 to 6 month time frame by 2 months. But then again, she always was very competitive!

Pancreatic Cancer is the 5th biggest cancer killer in the UK, with around 9600 people being diagnosed each year. That’s 26 new cases diagnosed every day. Survival rates are low, with around 20 in every 100 people surviving for 1 year or more. 93% of people will not survive past five years.

On Thursday 16th November, the world will unite to raise awareness of Pancreatic Cancer, which will be the highlight of November’s Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. Buildings up and down the UK will be turning their lights purple, with various other fundraising activities happening throughout the month. From ‘Wear Purple’ days, cake sales, quiz nights, to participation in marathons. 

You can find out more information and how you can get involved here on the Pancreatic Cancer UK website. At Kent-Teach and SPS, we will be wearing Purple that day to do our bit, and probably eating lots of cake (purple icing of course!)

As with most cancers, if pancreatic cancer can be diagnosed early and urgent action taken, lives can be saved.

If you take just one thing from this blog, cherish your family, spend every moment possible with them, never take them for granted, and tell them that you love them. Treat each day as if it was your last, letting them know how much they mean to you.

I hope this blog has been insightful, and lots of you will be able to do something to help raise awareness for Pancreatic Cancer. Whether that be sharing this post, holding a cake sale, wearing purple, or if you’re feeling energetic… running a marathon!

*Facts and figures sourced from Cancer Research UK & Pancreatic Cancer UK

Check our recent post, '10 Things You Should Do To Simplify Your Life'.

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