Every year 700 New Zealanders are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and over 620 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.
It took seven months for pancreatic cancer to take Sean’s father’s life. Patrick Hogan was 62.
18 months after his passing, Sean wants to do his part to raise awareness of this ‘brutal’ disease. This is his story.
“After Dad was diagnosed, I went on a google hunt for more information. I had no knowledge of pancreatic cancer; it definitely doesn’t get the profile that other cancers get.
It was in my search that I came across the Gut Cancer Foundation. I liked that the focus was on money for research, ultimately trying to address the cause and get earlier diagnosis happening. I wanted to support a cause that is putting money towards something that will benefit others in the future. I see it as the ambulance at the top of the cliff”.
While Dad was still with us, I decided to run the Hawkes Bay Marathon for the Gut Cancer Foundation. My daily motivation, to get through those long runs was thinking that my discomfort was nothing compared to the pain that dad was going through. He passed away two weeks before the marathon. I was pretty numb, but I got through it somehow and managed to raise $6,000.”
Sean says he’s since learnt that pancreatic cancer is hard to diagnose early and when detected it’s often too late. For Patrick, it was stomach and back pain that sent him to the doctor, the results showed stage 4 inoperable pancreatic cancer. It didn’t take long for the ‘silent cancer’ to really take over. “It’s brutal. To see the deterioration of my Dad throughout his treatment, he was unable to eat due to pain, it was all encompassing, affecting his mental health, he lost his taste, he was so tired”.
“And that’s where I think the change can be – earlier detection to change outcomes”.
Before he passed away, Patrick and Sean did a campervan trip to Northland, Patrick had never been that far north before and he said ‘Why didn’t I do this earlier?’ Sean says “I guess that’s one thing this has taught me. Losing a parent young really puts a lot of things into perspective. My advice is: reduce your risk however you can, live a healthy life, don’t put trips and making memories off”.
Pancreatic Cancer Aotearoa/ New Zealand - Facebook Support Group
If you have been affected by pancreatic visit: https://www.facebook.com/PanCan.ANZ. for an online community to support patients, friends, and family affected by pancreatic cancer