“I went through hell’ - Survivor of most deadly cancer speaks out
PUBLISHED: 19:00 02 December 2019 | UPDATED: 06:13 05 December 2019
A Suffolk woman is speaking out about her battle against one of the deadliest forms of cancer in a bid to highlight the need for research into the disease.
Lynne Walker, 66, was devastated when she was told she had pancreatic cancer in 2009 - a disease whicn only 7% of people survive for more than five years following diagnosis.
But 10 years on, the retired mananagement consultant lives at the Aldeburgh home she shares with her partner Anne, who on more than one occasion was warned to expect the worst.
"I remember very little of the day of the diagnosis," she said.
"The NHS did what it does so very well, reacted to the emergency, and focussed upon the medicine. However, my surgeon talked to me about the mental battle that I would face and explained that even if all went well I would be out of action for three months as the surgery was very major.
"In fact I spent nearly six months in hospital and went through hell and, although I didn't have chemotherapy or radiotherapy, the subsequent impact on my body was traumatic.
"The medical team were fantastic, especially the Critical Care staff whose unit I was admitted to five times, they saved my life.
"I suffered major organ failure, had several further operations, the acid from my bile duct had eaten a hole in my bowel, I had sepsis, a major artery burst and I nearly bled to death, I had liver abscesses, the list grew every week.
"There were several times when my partner was told I would not survive - but here I am."
Around 1,036 East of England residents are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer every year.
Currently one in four people with pancreatic cancer die within a month of diagnosis and the Suffolk resident says she realises how lucky she is to be alive.
She said: "I have had ten wonderful years with family, friends and colleagues, more than I might have expected.
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"In all that time, nothing has changed in pancreatic cancer survival. The odds are as appalling now as they were ten years, or even 50 years ago."
Now, ten years on form her diagnosis, Ms Walker is backing a campaign to demand that people are given a fair chance at beating cancer.
A petition as part of the Demand Survival Now campaign started by Pancreatic Cancer UK has 34,000 signatures and Ms Walker is hoping that it will force the next government after the election to take action.
She said: "This dreadful disease has been neglected for too long and we must now see a national plan from the next Government to take on the unique challenges of pancreatic cancer, a plan that is clear on how we make survival for patients the norm, not the exception."
Despite huge progress in overall cancer survival, pancreatic cancer remains the deadliest common cancer. Survival has not improved for more than 50 years and the UK is falling further behind the rest of Europe, with fewer patients receiving surgery to remove their tumour - currently the only potential cure for the disease.
Diana Jupp, CEO of Pancreatic Cancer UK said: "Decades of underfunding and inaction from Governments of all colours have made tackling pancreatic cancer a cancer emergency like no other.
"The huge strides which have been made in improving survival for other cancers are proof that the UK can do so much better, and it's time Governments prioritised the deadliest common cancer.
"With a dedicated plan, we can transform the future for patients and their loved ones. Please join us by signing the petition. It's unacceptable that people with pancreatic cancer face such deadly odds. They deserve a fair chance to survive."
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