Ann - Interview 01
Age at Interview:
62 and 64
Age at Diagnosis:
Ann is married with 3 children. She was a GP for over 35 years til her retirement when she developed pancreatic cancer, co-founder of the DIPEx Charity’s websites Healthtalkonline and Youthhealthtalk inspired by her own experience of breast cancer, and Medical Director of the Oxford University Health Experiences Research Group. Ethnic background/Nationality: White British.
Brief outline:Ann was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May 2007. She had a Whipple’s operation followed by chemotherapy. Ann recovered and was ‘incredibly well’ for two years. Then symptoms returned and a scan showed a recurrence with secondary tumours in her lungs.
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And he [the gastro-enterologist] said, “And then you’ve got an ultrasound in two days’ time.” So I went for the ultrasound and that’s when I really realised what was going on. Because I went for the ultrasound expecting it to be pretty normal. And they did the ultrasound, and the, the radiographer who was doing it kept going backwards and forwards, backward and forwards over the top part of my abdomen. And so eventually I said, “Is there a problem?” And she said, “Actually, the bile duct and the pancreatic duct are dilated. And I don’t know why.” And I just knew then that I must have pancreatic cancer. Which I didn’t want to think about it really, because I know it’s a horrible cancer to have. And so I was pretty shaken by that really.
I mean it’s interesting. I got the diagnosis on a Thursday, and all the children were meant to be coming and were coming at the weekend for a so-called fun run. I’m not sure they saw it as a fun run, because they had to run 10 kilometres, but it’s become an annual event. And so I didn’t really tell anyone apart from my husband and one or two other very close friends before that, because I wanted to tell the children. And I didn’t tell them until after the fun run. And after lunch I said to my three, or the other, they’re all married and got, two of them have got children, I wanted to just have a word with them. And of course the minute I said something and we were going, trying to find a room in the house where there wasn’t another child, or grandchild, they knew something was up. And I found it really difficult. Because I think one of the things about getting ill again is you, you know, you feel a failure in a way. You feel, it’s not that I feel I didn’t think my cancer away enough, because I don’t go along with all that. But you do feel you’re putting on others something which is awful for them to bear if it’s your children. And you feel you’ve failed in some way. I suppose one of the things is one’s f-, for me one of the important things about family life has been to try and make them happy, my sort of Jewish guilt of wanting them to be all right. And somehow to be, you know, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, recurrence of pancreatic cancer, you think, “Golly, you know, this is more than they should have to deal with, at this stage in their lives.” And so I felt terrible. But I, that bit was all right. I think it’s the realisation now, when one, talking to one on the phone or I, it suddenly catches me and catches them, that I feel, well, sad really, really sad, not depressed. And there is a big difference. Just really sad that I won’t see the grandchildren grow up.
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