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Jo's Story

Every year 720 New Zealanders are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and over 600 families lose a loved one to this disease.

This Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month we want to Shine a Light on just a few of the stories told by those fighting their personal pancreatic cancer battle, and those who have lost someone dear to them.

Jo lost her mum Pip Davidson to pancreatic cancer ten years ago.  Seeing how little has changed for pancreatic patients around awareness, treatments, and survival since then, Jo is committed to help raise funds for the critical
research and early awareness programmes that will make a difference to this 'silent killer'.  On 18 November, Jo is supporting Nyree Smith and
the rest of the PanCan Gala committee to do just this by holding the inaugural PanCan Gala. This is Jo's s

“We always thought that Mum would live to her 90s and were sure that Dad with his more sedentary, businessman lifestyle would go first - so it was a huge shock to the family and especially for Dad for Mum to go before him. It's been ten years now and I still think of her every day.

Mum was a very stoic person, she had been a bit unwell for some time but we didn’t know why. Russell and I were overseas when I got the call from Dad telling us that the diagnosis was pancreatic cancer. I went straight back to the hotel and googled it which was absolutely the worst thing to do, most of the articles said “terminal, two to three month and it’s over”. There was just this overpowering feeling of helplessness, that there was nothing Mum or we could do to fix this.

She was a very strong and self-disciplined woman, surgery wasn’t an option so Mum went through the treatments, gritted her teeth and made it to her & Dad’s 52ndwedding anniversary and to Dad’s 80th but after that she went downhill quick quickly. Mum passed away on 4 July, 2012 just two years after her diagnosis.

A very caring and loving person, Mum did a lot of things quietly around the community, she never sought praise for it but she was always doing things for others. She was Dad’s rock.

To see her go through her battle where it really felt like there was nothing we could do was awful. It’s such a grinding and debilitating disease and frankly the treatments seemed to be almost worse. It got to the point where Mum decided to stop chemo because it wasn’t adding to her quality of life.

To live through that experience and to see that 10 years on nothing has really changed; awareness and early diagnosis are still a huge issue, treatments haven’t really advanced and the stats remain absolutely dreadful.

My support of the PanCan Gala is in recognition of Mum and everything she did for others during her life. By raising funds to invest in awareness and research in the future people will be diagnosed early, treatments will be effective and good to live with and one day a pancreatic cancer diagnosis will no longer seem like a death sentence.