Nan’s death inspires cancer campaign

Victoria Poole with Jo-Ann Dobson
Victoria Poole with Jo-Ann Dobson

A Scarva woman who lost her grandmother to pancreatic cancer is campaigning to raise awareness of the disease.

Victoria Poole (25) is working to highlight the need for early diagnosis of the condition in Northern Ireland.

Victoria’s grandmother, Isobel Turner, died in June, 2014, just seven months after being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.

Victoria has since become an avid supporter of Pancreatic Cancer UK in Northern Ireland and hopes that, by working together, policy-makers, clinicians, researchers, charities and those affected by the disease can change the pancreatic cancer story.

Her grandmother had been suffering from abdominal pain for a few months and at first it was thought she had diverticulitis - inflammation of the colon.

Victoria said, “My nanny had private health care and was fast-tracked to a hospital consultant for a colonoscopy in October 2013.

“That came back clear for diverticulitis, but she was still having pain and so it needed further investigation.

“So she was sent for an MRI scan which revealed the cancer. Thankfully she was fast-tracked again, before the final diagnosis was made on November 21, 2013. Nanny didn’t have any chemotherapy, as the cancer was too far advanced by the time she was told what it was. With pancreatic cancer, only an operation can give the patient a chance of survival.

“This was my first and only real experience of cancer in my family, which ended in heartbreak when I lost my nanny in June 2014, just seven months after her having been diagnosed and told the condition was terminal. We were all left heartbroken.”

Around 9,400 people were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK in 2014, with more than 8,800 dying from the disease that year; the figures for NI were 208 and 232 respectively.

Pancreatic Cancer UK is encouraging people to download the Patient Charter from www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk.