what would you do if...?

..sorry this is going to be a morbid thread....

What would you do if you'd just been told a close family member has inoperable pancreatic cancer? I just got told this today - this morning in fact. I'm a jibbering wreck - we all are. Can't string two words together, sit still, concentrate for very long, stop bursting into tears etc I guess it's shock. I don't know what to do with myself, but hey, I'm not the one with the cancer...

So I have: offered to go home and keep everyone company - my mum said it was OK for now and I didn't need to go; I have also bought a copy of 'It's Not About the Bike' for my auntie, who is the one with the cancer. Hopefully I'll be able to give it to her soon.

But it's not a death sentence, right? She's been offered radiotherapy so they must think there's some chance of getting rid of it. I've tried reading stuff on the internet but it's either scary or incomprehensible.

Has anyone else been there with this and what did you do? I just want to help my family as much as possible. I'm on my own right now and will be until tomorrow. Need to share! Sorry...


Legendary Member
Very sorry to hear your news.

I'm afraid I don't know enough about pancreatic cancer to comment on the likely prognosis.

Based on the experience of a close family member who had advanced bowl cancer I can only offer the following advice.

- Make sure you aunt is well informed about all the treatment options, and their potential side effects. She needs to be able to make well informed choices about what treatments are best - or indeed whether further treatment is in her best interest.
- Make sure she has plenty of support, and that she and the family understand what services are available if needed. Depending where she lives there will be support available from District Nurses, Social Services, Macmillan, and perhaps the local hospice (who often offer day care support).
If your aunt is struggling to look after herself, you can ask Social Services to carry out an assessment.
- Be positive. Many people can live for years with so-called inoperable cancer and still have a good quality of life. And some like Armstrong can overcome apparently impossible odds. Giving her "Its Not About The Bike" is a good place to start.


Legendary Member
PS Feel free to PM me if you want more advice on accessing services for your aunt. We unfortunately have a lot of experience in this area.


Resting in suspended Animation
I'm very sorry to hear your news, I don't know what I'd do.

One of my friends mothers died from pancreatic cancer (adenocarcinoma origin) at a relatively young age quite a number of years ago. Not all pancreatic cancers are that, if that is the case then that's good news as some pancreatic cancers have reasonable survival odds. Unfortunately it's certainly not the case for what I wrote above. You never know though. Whatever the case Dannyg's advice sounds good.


New Member
I dont know about the individual types of cancer & I am not a medical chap. However for the last three years a close friend of ours has been fighting bowel cancer. She has 4 young children. She had to have several ops, and full Chemo, but A few months ago she was given the all clear, and the most recent check up confirms it has not returned.

... there is hope.
Thanks all.
I'm trying to be informed as much as I can about the treatment options...and I am starting to draw up a list of questions that we might want to ask the doctors so we are all as fully informed as we can be.
I tried to read about the cancer itself but found it confusing. It's not got a name yet, as they've not had the detailed biopsy results. But I guess when they do we'll know more and I'll be better informed...
My auntie can definitely look after herself at home, I think she's just a bit depressed at the moment. She's actually putting weight back on and losing a lot of the symptoms because she's had a bypass to the tumour put in and so the pancreas is working pretty much OK.


Legendary Member
Depression is an understandable and common reaction to a diagnosis. I'd know that I'd feel pretty depressed if I ever find myself in that situation.

But if it looks like it is becoming an issue, agencies like Macmillan can help your aunt, and the rest of the family, by providing counselling and support.


New Member
Bear in mind that the patient (and particularly but not exclusively the older patient) may hear differently what is said to them from what the health professional is actually saying.

Dad was sometimes too polite to ask the soft spoken health professionals to speak up or to explain their jargon in layman's terms. If I was there I could translate, but if Mum was, she couldn't.

The last letter he got from the specialist was 'good news'. He told the whole family that.

I read it when going through his desk a few months later. There was one bit of good news in it.
I don't to this day whether he understood the medical jargon in the letter and wished to be positive, or whether he just took in the one bit of good news.

Pancreatic cancer has several forms, some of which are very aggressive.


Legendary Member
Oh Kirstie, I'm so sorry!! How awful.

There's excellent advice on here already about getting information etc. I would beware the internet though...the times I've used it to look up symptoms, I've terrified it.

Go and see your Aunt when you can. Feed her ginger champagne cocktails, play something on your accordian and tell her you love her.



Über Member
I can't add anything. But just want to say I'm thinking of you and it must be hard not to be with your family at the moment.


Smutmaster General
Sorry to hear your news... I've found that giving time, a listening ear, and helping someone to laugh when they want to and cry when they want to are good things to do. :tongue:
Thanks again. I spent the last two hours or so reading up about it all on the cancer research website. There are lots of things on there that I do have questions about, so I've written them down and also sent them to my mum, with your advice attached Maggot.

I also found a cancer centre in Bury (our home town) that they can go to for resources. And then I started to read the macmillan forum - flippin' 'eck! Some of the stories on there.... makes you realise you're not alone, and there are some really amazing people on there who offer support to strangers even though they are suffering themselves...but also made me realise how little time she's got. It was really harsh...
Top Bottom