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My pancreatic cancer story: Susan

Updated: Jan 17, 2022

Susan Cooke - a founding member of NIPANC - lost her husband Colin (45) to pancreatic cancer in February 2013 just eleven weeks after he was diagnosed. In this short blog and accompanying video, Susan tells her pancreatic cancer story and the impact it had on her family.

The 26th November 2012 is a day that is hard to forget. It was the day my husband Colin was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in the middle of a busy A&E unit.

Colin had attended the same unit just 2 weeks previously complaining of severe abdominal pain and was at first told it might be appendicitis. Blood tests and x-rays were taken which ruled out this diagnosis and he was sent home with painkillers and a laxative as he might be constipated and yet just 2 weeks later our world was shattered.

Our journey from this point was not easy with delays in referrals that meant tests were late in being carried out. A delay in referral to support services meant we did not hear from a nurse specialist until after New Year and most importantly a lack of community services which led to Colin spending his last Christmas in hospital and not at home with his children. Yet our time together mattered.

Unfortunately, Colin’s diagnosis was too late and treatment was not an option. He passed away just 11 weeks later on 10th February 2013 at the age of 45 leaving behind 2 boys Adam then 19 and Aaron who was 3. Only 11 weeks and every second mattered.

I was horrified to discover how little change there had been in the survival rates for people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer over the last 50 years. It seemed while other cancers had awareness campaigns and money spent on groundbreaking research pancreatic cancer was like the forgotten relative.

When I met Kerry Irvine, so much of our stories were similar and we decided to set up a support group for people affected which was the foundation from where NIPANC has grown. I am extremely proud to be a board member for NIPANC and extremely grateful to every member, supporter, and person who has donated.

Together we can and will make a difference in education and awareness, research for early diagnosis and better treatment, and also in supporting those affected because in life, time matters.


Learn more about the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer by clicking here


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My youngest sister passed away on 29 July 2021 following diagnosis of pancreatic cancer on 1 June 2021. So much of Susan’s story resonates with our situation, with little time to process the diagnosis never mind her passing at 49. Thanks to Susan for sharing her story, and to Susan and Kerry for their insight and work in establishing this group.

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