My symptoms started with itchy skin. After a few days I was jaundiced and had dark coloured urine and back pain. I thought I had a problem with my gall bladder so I went to Emergency.
The doctors did several tests and scans and couldn’t figure out what was wrong, so they put a stent into my gall bladder to prevent it from becoming blocked.
The stent was changed four times over the course of a year. I had regular scans but no cancer was detected.
I wasn’t feeling well and I had a bout of pancreatitis, so my surgeon removed my gall bladder and did a biliary bypass. They were then able to see that I had a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour on the head of my pancreas.
One good thing for me was that I didn’t have to have chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
I had a Whipple procedure. It was a serious operation and I was in hospital for five weeks.
During recovery in hospital, I didn’t have a feeding tube – I drank water and built up to other fluids. Over the next six months, I lost a lot of weight because I didn’t eat a great deal.
I now eat a mostly vegetarian diet with meat 1–2 times per week. I take a digestive enzyme supplement called Creon with food and increase the dose with a larger meal. I try to eat well most of the time.
I rarely eat sugary, fatty or dairy foods. I’m able to maintain a healthy weight.
Since I’ve learned to manage my diet, I was able to go overseas this year on a European river cruise. I was careful with what I ate and I rested a few days when I needed to, but I didn’t have any serious problems.
Dr Lorraine Chantrill, Senior Staff Specialist Medical Oncology, The Kinghorn Cancer Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital, and Honorary Research Fellow, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, NSW; Jennifer Arena, Pancreatic and Neuroendocrine Cancer Care Coordinator, Northern Sydney Cancer Centre, Royal North Shore Hospital, and Northern Cancer Institute, NSW; Dr Michael Briffa, Southern Adelaide Palliative Services, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Rachel Corbett, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; A/Prof Nick O’Rourke, The University of Queensland, Chairman of General Surgery, Head of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD; Steve Pendry, consumer; Caley Schnaid, Accredited Practising Dietitian, Northern Cancer Institute and Wellac Lifestyle, NSW; Deane Standley, Consumer. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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