Phil Jones, international bowls champion, steps up to become national Pancare cause champion
Phil Jones feels like one lucky man.
Lauded as one of Norfolk Island’s top lawn bowls champions, Phil (pictured on the right of the photo above) was enjoying an active life, travelling the world, participating in the sport he loves at the highest levels. He was in good health and making the most of every opportunity.
In 2017, Phil began experiencing inexplicable weight loss and fatigue that was unusual for him. With a heightened awareness of changes to his body thanks to a family history of bowel cancer, Phil Jones went to his GP to investigate his symptoms further. Phil was concerned that like his mother, he would receive a diagnosis of bowel cancer.
During scans for bowel cancer, it was discovered that Phil had an Intraductal Papillary Mucosal Neoplasm (IPMN). An IPMN is a benign cyst that forms in the pancreatic ducts and can develop into pancreatic cancer if left untreated. Phil’s cyst was positioned in the head of his pancreas.
There are limited treatment options for IPMN, with this precancerous condition requiring either ongoing close-monitoring or pre-emptive surgery to curb progression. The risk of a pancreatic cancer diagnosis and its high mortality rate, and the rapid growth of his cyst, led Phil to undergo a Whipple procedure in June 2018.
From initial diagnosis to the time of his Whipple procedure, Phil’s cyst had grown rapidly from 1.2cm in diameter to 4.5cm.
Phil had his Whipple procedure at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney and after a hospital stay of 6 days, he spent 5 weeks recovering with family in Newcastle, before heading home to Norfolk Island.
While dramatic changes to diet were required as a result of the operation, Phil was determined to give himself the best chance of recovery. He felt like he’d been given an incredible chance. Having maintained a relatively healthy and active lifestyle prior to surgery, Phil made sure to get up and get going as soon as he could. Incredibly, within 44 days of his surgery, Phil was back casual teaching at his local school.
Phil’s family and friends provided an incredible source of support and strength over this period. His tight knit community of Norfolk Island, his love of bowls and the wonderful bowls community, provided additional support, strength and focus for him. Phil has yearly check-ups in Sydney to ensure he remains in good health.
“I’m lucky, but I know not everyone is. I want to help give people a chance.”
The more Phil has learnt about pancreatic cancer, the luckier he feels and the more he wants to help.
As a Pancare Foundation Community Ambassador, Phil will work with Pancare Foundation and use his significant influence as an internationally acclaimed lawn bowler, to help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of pancreatic and other upper gastrointestinal (GI) cancers. Phil has played lawn bowls at an elite level since 2005 – both locally and internationally and is committed to helping raise awareness and funds for research into early detection methods and new treatments within the bowls and wider community.
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