‘I really thought it was game over when I heard the word pancreas’ – cancer survivor demands more funding

A woman who survived a cancer that has a survival rate of just 1 in 10 people diagnosed has called for more funding for research.

Today, November 17th, is World Pancreas Day.

It’s a day when health officials and experts aim to raise awareness of this deadly cancer, which has a very poor five-year survival rate of just 10 percent.

Pancreatic cancer survivor Pamela Deasy was diagnosed early enough to undergo a successful treatment program.

“My journey began in 2018 when I had stomach problems and severe fatigue for a few months before going to the doctor,” Ms Deasy said.

“Initially I was on pills but I was miserable and getting overwhelmed so I was sent for tests and that’s when I got my diagnosis.

“I was so shocked. I really thought it was game over when I heard the word pancreas since the survival rate is so low.

“I thought I needed to get my affairs in order and started writing everything – mortgages, bank accounts and more – in a book.

“But after waiting a month before starting chemotherapy, I then underwent combined radiation therapy, followed by surgery to remove a piece of my spleen, intestines and stomach. It was a bit like rewiring.

“Fortunately, I got the all-clear after that and haven’t had to look at my book since.”

The Cork-based mother-of-one has found her life back on track and is currently studying Counseling at University College Cork.

Although she was lucky enough to survive her diagnosis, she says it has taken its toll.

“I now have check-ups every six months and I’m fine, but I have ongoing mobility and digestive issues with extreme fatigue, which has a knock-on effect,” she said.

“Nevertheless, I’m so thankful to be here and I’ve learned that no matter what life throws at you, you have to try to get something positive out of it.

“That’s the mantra I’m trying to live by now, and I got involved with Breakthrough Cancer Research earlier this year because I know the importance of research. If I had been diagnosed with this ten years ago, I wouldn’t be here.

“The more research that is done, the better the treatments and the more survivors there will be.”

This is one of the reasons Breakthrough Cancer Research wants to highlight the urgent need for additional research.

The charity, which is celebrating ten years of excellent research, recently announced additional funding of €2 million.

This will help advance new research into the seven types of cancer that account for almost half of cancer deaths in Ireland each year, including the pancreas.

The incidence of these cancers is expected to more than double in the next 30 years.

Currently, the disease affects around 600 people in Ireland each year. While symptoms may not be felt in the early stages, they include pain or discomfort in the abdominal area that can spread to the back.

There may also be unexplained weight loss, indigestion, jaundice, loss of appetite or feeling full quickly, nausea, a permanent change in bowel habits, a new diagnosis of diabetes without weight gain, and fatigue.

Orla Dolan, CEO of Breakthrough Cancer Research, said that new pancreatic cancer discoveries and new ideas are being made every day that need funding.

“New knowledge means new ideas, leading to better ways to detect and treat this cancer,” she said.

“One of the key factors for a positive outcome in patients with pancreatic cancer is early detection.

“However, unlike other cancers where you can see or feel a lump, the pancreas is internal.

“So by the time people notice something is wrong, the tumor has often gotten very large or has already spread outside the pancreas, making it difficult to treat.

“There is currently no screening program or single test to diagnose pancreatic cancer because it is not a common cancer and has a low survival rate, so this is the first thing we want to change.

“The goal of our charity is to fund research that will improve outcomes and increase survival rates for all cancers.

“Each breakthrough brings us closer to a future in which all forms of cancer can be treated effectively and survival rates are greatly increased.”

The €2 million in funding that will be allocated to researchers was announced in the new five-year research strategy of the charity Making More Survivors.

This strategy underscores Breakthrough’s vision to successfully treat all types of cancer. They believe this can be achieved by investing more research money into the types of cancer that need the most attention.

The charity has already successfully brought eight new treatments from the lab to the clinic. She has greenlit several pancreatic cancer projects.

“At Breakthrough, we are confident that our research will also generate more survivors from low-surviving cancers,” said Ms. Dolan.

“We are building research expertise and facilitating innovation nationally to transform cancer care, and we are accelerating the translation of laboratory discoveries into new, better, safer and smarter diagnoses and treatments.

“Our vision is bold. We will finance quickly and intelligently to survive 100 percent from cancer.”

For more information, to donate or to view Breakthrough Cancer Research’s five year strategy, visit breakthroughcancerresearch.ie.

https://www.independent.ie/news/i-really-thought-it-was-game-over-when-i-heard-the-word-pancreatic-cancer-survivor-calls-for-increased-funding-42153248.html ‘I really thought it was game over when I heard the word pancreas’ – cancer survivor demands more funding

Fry Electronics Team

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