Every year 720 New Zealanders are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and over 600 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.
Terina lost her dad last year to pancreatic cancer and got in touch with Gut Cancer Foundation to make a donation of almost $6,000 after her whānau did a head shave to mark the first anniversary of his passing.
Her whānau chose the foundation because they want the money to be used for awareness of symptoms of pancreatic cancer. This is her story.
"I lost my dad in March 2021. He had a very short diagnosis. The day he found out was my mum’s birthday – 15 February and he passed away on 21 March. So we had 5 fast weeks and a very harsh reality of this cancer.
My Dad was a very beautiful person, it sounds like a cliché, because I’m his daughter – of course I’m going to say that, but he was. He’s so missed. He was one of those people who could sit in a room and have a presence, without saying anything. There was a respect that he claimed it without having to claim it. He was a quiet man who didn’t need an introduction or to make himself known because he was always more worried about whether everyone else was ok – that was his life. He was such a good man; I was very lucky to have a good dad.
We had never heard of pancreatic cancer, we had heard of gut cancers, but pancreatic cancer was a new one. He had this tremendous back pain that was the trigger for my mum to say - You need to go to the hospital, there’s something wrong, you’ve never been like this before.
One of the other big signs, that we didn’t know about was that he hadn’t had a bowel movement for a very long time, almost close to a couple of months, and when he did there was blood in his urine and bowel movement.
The money we raised doing the head shave was for prevention and awareness, because of what we had just experienced. How to do educate people like us who didn’t know until it hit us, what to look out for.
I want people to know that you need to look after yourself and you need to be completely aware of your body. There are things that changed in him that he didn’t talk about. Probably because he was a bit whakama (shy). But he would have known. The devastation it leaves for us, it’s us that hurt after.
I want people to understand – if there is any hint of sickness, go check it out. For the sake of everyone around you that love you, because you may not be here but we are the ones that are all going to hurt once you are gone.
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