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Rhondda's Story

Every year 630 New Zealanders are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and over 540 families lose a loved one to this striking 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.

Rhondda sadly lost her Dad John to pancreatic cancer in December 2020 and has signed up to host a Big Purple Dinner in his honour. We are very grateful for her support and her willingness to share her story to help raise awareness.

“Before August 4th 2020, the day my Dad John was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I had never really heard of pancreatic cancer. I threw myself into full time care of my Dad through the months of going from GP services, hospital to palliative care and touching base with many services such as Mary Potter Hospice, nurse Maude and Wellington hospital palliative care team. What a whirlwind!!

It highlighted a few things for me. There is very little awareness out there in our society to advise, promote and inform people about pancreatic cancer; the signs of it, the what's, how’s, the whys, and the what happens next stages.

This sparked my passion for promoting awareness of pancreatic cancer and the awesome work the Gut Cancer Foundation do for all types of gut health. They seek to make a difference in funding for clinical trials research as this is the last link in medical research to help save lives. While also providing information to help whanau survivors and patients who are going through this rocky journey, to know they do matter and there is support out there. They are funding awareness to prevent and catch this disease before it’s at the too-late stage. It’s all about hope and we never lose that.

I found the online Facebook support group Pancreatic Cancer Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) set up by Gut Cancer Foundation Ambassador Briony O’Farrell. This was an absolute game-changer for me. I was lost and had nothing to really go on. This group opened up with love and shared the most amazing advice. People just like me who had lost a loved one, people who have pancreatic cancer and are at different recovery stages and survivors. There is always someone to listen and offer support and advice. We also have monthly coffee catch’s up as a group in Christchurch and Auckland and all are welcome.

So my love for promoting the purple pancreatic cancer ribbon began. I now live for purple in the loving memory of my Dad, and if by fundraising I could save one life or make one life better, then I have achieved one of my set goals on this journey.”

Rhondda’s concluding message is this:

“If you or someone you know has been touched by pancreatic cancer or any gut cancers please get on board this November and have a Big Purple Dinner and help us fundraise! Eat great food, laugh, and celebrate life, friendships, and memories of your loved ones.
All while making a difference to acknowledge, educate and promote awareness of pancreatic cancer.”

Pancreatic Cancer Aotearoa/ New Zealand - Facebook Support Group

If you have been affected by pancreatic visit: for an online community to support patients, friends, and family affected by pancreatic cancer