Christmas is a time to remind us just how important family is.

Families like Katherine’s who have been directly affected by pancreatic or other upper gastrointestinal cancers can be instantly uprooted when a loved one is diagnosed.

At just 7%, pancreatic cancer has one of the lowest five year survival rates of all major cancers. This means that the pool of survivors is low and the stories we hear, are from loved ones left behind. Katherine shares her story with us. 

As a new resident of Australia, with my family far away in Canada, Christmas time has become even more important to me.

For forty years my mum and her dad had lost contact. Over these years, they both searched for each other over two countries, Belgium and Canada.

One night, my family and I were inspired to search for my Grandfather on Google. He was the first listed in the results.

The last time my mum had seen my grandfather, he was living in Vancouver. When my mum found him, he was 5000km away on the opposite side of the country. He had a whole new family, two daughters and one grandchild.

Reuniting was emotional. After a weekend full of smiles, hugs and tears we went our separate ways.

In 2010, my grandfather was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and I would only see him one more time before he died.

In 2012, my partner’s aunt was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer and I was overwhelmed with the same feeling I had with my grandfather – a great sadness and a sense of uselessness. She fought bravely for three years until she passed away in 2015.

It would be my second time watching someone I loved die of pancreatic cancer from a distance.

According to a recent global survey, 60% of people know almost nothing about pancreatic cancer. It’s only when you have had someone close to you affected by the disease, that it starts to consume your life.

I’ve come to learn that the only way to change the outcome of people’s lives like my grandfather is to invest in research.

I joined Pancare in the fight against pancreatic cancer and I hope you will too.


Katherine Cummings