My Story is about Virginia Murphy nee Cahill (my mother)

This event took place from 01 Dec 2020 to 21 Jun 2021

The Discovery

My mother had red flag symptoms in December 2020 (Nausea, belching, vomiting etc.) and was unable to get a GP appointment that month. Following a local a&e hospital admission in early January 2021, scans had showed a mass on the head of her pancreas (circa 4cm) and multiple liver lesions consistent with metastasis. It wasn’t until near the ned of January that a biopsy was taken and only in February 2021 did she receive the biopsy results confirming pancreatic adenocarcinoma. The family (we) were told that my mother would have anything between 3, 6 and 9 months to live, but closer to 3 months given the extent of the disease. My mother had several hospital admissions due to complications such as a gastric blockage, blocked bile duct and ascites. We did not hear from an oncologist for a long time and there was no true offer of chemo. Virginia sadly passed away on 21st June 2021, just 3 weeks after her 62nd birthday, leaving behind a husband of 42 years, her only sibling (brother), 5 adult children and 5 grandchildren.

This is My Story

My beautiful mother died at 62 years old. We (the family) cared for her morning, noon and night and never left her side since the day she was diagnosed until the day she took her last breaths. Virginia left behind a husband of 42 years, her only sibling (brother), 5 adult children and 5 grandchildren.

The Impact of Time

We are in Northern Ireland. Two months were wasted before my mother’s cancer was found and confirmed. Had my mother’s cancer been picked up in December we are sure that my mother would have had the opportunity to have been offered chemo, perhaps even delaying or preventing complications such as gastric blockage, bile duct blocks, and ascites.

PanCan is not like any other cancer. The prognosis for this cancer is remarkably short as it is often caught much too late. Patients of other cancers are often given 2 years prognosis, we had many well-meaning family friends and people in our community tell us not to worry about Virginia because they survived breast cancer and they were still here many years later after being given a 2 year prognosis. Patients with 2 years prognosis have a little bit of time to wait for procedures and treatment, whereas PanCan patients with only a few months prognosis have no time to wait. Each day in their journey is highly significant. GPs, physicians, oncologist and multi-disciplinary teams need to act fast and be involved in their patient’s care from day 1.

There was no early detection in my story, my mother suffered from back pain 2 years prior to her diagnosis (pre-pandemic). Even then, the GPs did not see her face to face and just prescribed over the phone without any further investigations. My mother continued to manage her own back pain herself at home for those two years. Could this back pain have been early symptoms of her pancreatic cancer? We will never know now.

Time is the most valuable resource in the world. Time is something that we can never get back, more valuable than money. Act now, live now! My precious mother never got time.