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Ann - Interview 01- Pancreatic cancer

Age at interview: 62
Age at diagnosis: 62
Brief Outline: Ann was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May 2007. She had a Whipple's operation followed by chemotherapy. Ann recovered and was 'incredibly well' for two years. Then symptoms returned and a scan showed a recurrence with secondary tumours in her lungs.
Background: Ann is married with 3 children. She was a GP for over 35 years till her retirement when she developed pancreatic cancer, co-founder of the DIPEx Charity's websites Healthtalkonline and Youthhealthtalk inspired by her own experience of breast cancer, and Medical Director of the Oxford University Health Experiences Research Group. Ethnic background/Nationality' White British.

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The surgeon told Ann that she was one of the ‘lucky’ ones who could have surgery for her...

The surgeon told Ann that she was one of the ‘lucky’ ones who could have surgery for her...

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 Did you at any point, then, consider that there wasn’t, because you were very well, and had just had this terrific walking holiday, did you ever think, “Why do I let myself in for this operation?”

 
Not at that stage. I just didn’t think there was an option. I knew that most pancreatic cancers present very late with painless jaundice and they can’t operate. I mean the, in fact the gastroenterologist said, “You know, you’re one of the lucky 10 or 20 per cent because ...” I don’t know that I felt lucky but…. “Because it’s operable and it looks to be very small.” At that stage they were thinking it was about 0.8 centimetres. In fact it turned out to be 2 centimetres. But, and I mean they were saying, you know, “It’s operable. It could be curable.” Although I didn’t quite believe that, and I’m not sure I do yet. And, you know, it’s got such a, and there was, there seemed to be no other option really. 
 
And I didn’t want a second opinion, and I didn’t want to know more about the operation than I already knew. I really, I didn’t want to know more. I just wanted someone to look after me and make the decisions at that stage, and tell me what to do. I suppose I knew enough to know that it was not going to be nice, and I didn’t want to know more than that really.
 
 

Ann knew that her operation was going to be painful. Even though she is an experienced GP, she...

Ann knew that her operation was going to be painful. Even though she is an experienced GP, she...

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Did you at any point, then, consider that there wasn’t, because you were very well, and had just had this terrific walking holiday, did you ever think, “Why do I let myself in for this operation?”

 
Not at that stage. I just didn’t think there was an option. I knew that most pancreatic cancers present very late with painless jaundice and they can’t operate. I mean the, in fact the gastroenterologist said, “You know, you’re one of the lucky 10 or 20 per cent because ...” I don’t know that I felt lucky but…. “Because it’s operable and it looks to be very small.” At that stage they were thinking it was about 0.8 centimetres. In fact it turned out to be 2 centimetres. But, and I mean they were saying, you know, “It’s operable. It could be curable.” Although I didn’t quite believe that, and I’m not sure I do yet. And, you know, it’s got such a, and there was, there seemed to be no other option really. 
 
And I didn’t want a second opinion, and I didn’t want to know more about the operation than I already knew. I really, I didn’t want to know more. I just wanted someone to look after me and make the decisions at that stage, and tell me what to do. I suppose I knew enough to know that it was not going to be nice, and I didn’t want to know more than that really.
 
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