“It wasn’t diverticulitis. It was pancreatic cancer!” .”
If there’s one message of hope that Dianne McDonald, 68, wants everyone to know, it’s this:
“I would encourage anyone, if unusual physical conditions present themselves, to insist on something more than pills from their GP if that’s the suggested remedy. Seek an answer and refute the notion that ‘all will be well’ with a prescription from the pharmacy and thus let it keep escalating.”
Dianne had always considered herself healthy but stomach discomfort, pain, digestive and bowel issues made life very difficult and unpleasant. She had antibiotics prescribed for her ailments but, while a fleeting solution, they never went away. Then, she was diagnosed with diverticulitis. But that wasn’t the real reason for her woes.
“By chance, and only by chance, when COVID hit I was looking after my mother. And then my own condition worsened. I arranged an appointment with her GP and they thought I had gall stones because of the tenderness and pain I was having – like mother, like daughter. An ultra-sound was arranged, a mass was found, then a CT scan confirmed pancreatic cancer.”
Eight operations later, ranging from minor to major, hospital stays for infections, chemotherapy and radiation, Dianne says her family and friends have been a critical reason for her optimistic outlook.
“My family and friends have been wonderful. From helping with showers to visits, bringing food, taking me shopping, phone calls … always there to listen on my low days when I just need someone to talk to or share a laugh. I love them all. And my dog has played a big therapeutic role as well!”
Dianne first found out about Pancare from her surgeon, Dr Merhdad Nikfarjam, on her initial visit to see him. She has since engaged with PanSupport’s dietician, massage and exercise suggestions and believes they have all lead to her positive outlook.
“Staying positive, believing each day will be better than the one before it. The support of family and friends and being honest with what’s on your mind during your journey has helped a lot. I’ve also returned to quilting, Tai Chi and my charity groups to give back.”
Dianne says there are some things she would like to see changed in the future when it comes to diagnoses being made, with a message of hope for others.
“I would like to see more thorough tests done at the start of first signs rather than the journey of months of trial and error before ultra-sounds and CT scans. But my message of hope is to enjoy every day you have and, even on the bad ones, remember there is always someone worse off than you … glass half-full, not half-empty.”
Thanks for sharing your story Dianne. All the best with your treatment.