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Liz Irwin 

Mum was a fit, healthy 59 year old woman who treated her body as a temple and was full of energy and life. She had no long term illnesses and was not on any medications. She was a truly wonderful woman. Pancreatic cancer does not discriminate. She was diagnosed 2 weeks after her symptoms started - a tummy upset and an itch. Her tumour was deemed operable and she underwent a Whipple’s several weeks later. She recovered exceptionally fast from the surgery and began adjuvant chemotherapy (capecitabine). After 6 gruelling months, a scan showed no evidence of disease and we were all elated. At follow up 6 months later, her tumour marker had started to rise, and she began to feel unwell again. Devastatingly, a CT scan revealed our fears - the cancer was spreading. There were pulmonary and peritoneal metastases with ascites. She had further chemotherapy (folfirinox) which improved things initially, but then developed resistance approaching 6 months on treatment. Mum was a fighter. She wanted to live, and never gave up. She switched to an alternative chemotherapy regimen (abraxane and gemcitabine) and her disease sadly progressed. She developed a malignant bowel obstruction and intractable ascites after 5 months and treatment was therefore stopped. She passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by her family, 8 weeks later in August 2017.

Fundraising has provided a great focus for us as a family. We have always been a very close family unit and mum’s death had left a huge hole in our lives. Mum had arranged several fundraising events for Pancreatic Cancer Action after her diagnosis. We wanted to carry this on. In October following her death, we had a fabulous night of food, entertainment and prizes held at the Bryansburn Inn in Bangor. This event raised a whopping £10,500 for Pancreatic Cancer Action. Following on from this, a charity golf day and dinner took place in August this year at Bangor Golf Club. A total of £3500 was raised - half of the proceeds went to NIPanC and half to Pancreatic Cancer UK. We hope to continue fundraising to raise money for further research, education and support for those affected by this terrible disease.

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