“Mine and my sister’s childhood is what I would consider to be normal. We grew up in the suburbs of Sydney in a nice house. We spent our summer school holidays together as a family by the beach. Birthdays and Christmas’s were celebrated with the family. We were close. Our parents worked hard to provide for us and made sure we never went without.
Mum was like a machine juggling work, the house, getting us to school, sporting activities, work. Dad was either in the kitchen or in front of the BBQ preparing dinner with the spices he had just bought with great excitement and a beer in hand. My Dad’s passions were my Mum of course, his daughters, his family and later his 4 granddaughters. He loved to cook, enjoyed a beer, his NRL football team the mighty Tigers and his 1968 Mustang.
As we got older and had our own children our family remained close. Our parents, now known as Nanny and Poppy continued the same love and support to their grand kids.
For me my relationship with my parents changed. I still loved and respected them as my parents but I found them both to be two of my best friends. Mum I could talk to about anything and her sound advice was welcomed. Dad and I would talk about everything but mostly NRL Football. We would sit in his Mustang after watching matches on TV and critique the players, the referees, anything that was worth the discussion.
In early 2015 my Dad started to complain his back was sore. Well, more sore than normal. He dismissed it as old age. As weeks and months passed he tolerated the pain but also became very lethargic. Even the smallest amount of physical activity made him tired. Again he put it down to getting older. He began to feel nauseous every time he ate. The sick feeling became so overwhelming he went to see the doctor.
I still remember is was a Friday night in July when my Dad rang me. He rang to say he had Pancreatic Cancer and secondary Liver Cancer. His words were “it’s not good”. I assured him things will be fine. There are treatments for Cancer these days. Mum was a Breast Cancer survivor and is now living a happy and healthy life. “We’ll see the doctor, get some Chemo and it will all be over”.
I was so very wrong. My Dad grew to become even more tired. The constant doctor’s appointments took their toll on both of my parents. I watched my Dad fight as hard as he could but the cancer stole his life away. He no longer wanted to eat because things didn’t taste right. He was asleep more than he was awake.
On the 29th November 2015, exactly 2 months after his 73rd birthday, my Dad passed away.
Throughout my Dad’s illness my mum, my sister and I were shocked about how little was known about Pancreatic Cancer. Why was such a deadly cancer almost unheard of? As we spoke to more and more people we found a common story within families affected by this terrible disease. Like us, their loved one found out too late to be treated. My family and I agreed. Something had to be done.
In March of this year we brought to life a Pancreatic Cancer Awareness group named “For Poppy Pete”. We have teamed up with the Pancare Foundation to raise money and awareness of Pancreatic Cancer. So far this year we have targeted schools, clubs, groups and social events in the Penrith NSW area. We are sharing my Dad’s story, talking to families who have been affected by Pancreatic Cancer.
Our goal is to make people aware of the symptoms and encourage them to talk to their doctor. Along with the support of Pancare we looking to ensure people do not suffer like my Dad did.”