A mum whose daughter got death threats as she was dying from cancer has said her controversial campaign has made a big difference, four years after her death.
It took four months for doctors to diagnose Eileen Harvey’s daughter Kerry with the notoriously hard to detect Pancreatic cancer in 2014, and by then it was too late.
But despite her terrible pain Kerry spent her final days as the face of an awareness campaign that drew a great deal of attention.
Her mum Eileen, 53, said: “She was the sweetest person you could come across.
“It doesn’t feel like four years, it is still really new. You never get over losing a child.”
Born in Solihull, Kerry moved to Portsmouth for university and also lived in Chichester and Bognor.
“Kerry was going to doctors for four months with pains.
“She was given medication for ulcers, IBS, and told she might have had a miscarriage.
“If it was found early maybe she would still be with me.”
Just weeks before she died, Kerry was the face of a Pancreatic Cancer Action campaign saying ‘I wish I had breast cancer’, a reference to higher survival rates.
Eileen, who lives in Solihull, said: “She got slated for it, she got death threats.
“These were people who had family or friends with breast cancer, they just did not read between the lines of what Kerry was trying to say.
Kerry died four years ago tomorrow, on February 22, 2014.
“I have noticed there is a lot more awareness now, Kerry’s campaign brought it to light.”
But she said more needs to be done: “Doctors need to be able to diagnose it early.
“Kerry’s age was a factor. It’s supposed to be an old person cancer but that is not true.”
Eileen left campaigning to be with her granddaughter, Aurora, who was born just weeks before Kerry died.
“She was sent from heaven, I think. She’s kept me sane.
“You need to spend time with family, you never know what’s around the corner.”
A spokesman for Pancreatic Cancer Action paid tribute to ‘brave, lovely Kerry’ who defended their campaign despite being so unwell.
The spokesman said: “While the initial response to the campaign that Kerry took part in was negative and our team of five were overwhelmed with hundreds of phone calls, emails and social media messages from angry members of the public from across the world, it didn’t take long for the tide to turn when people started to read beyond the shocking headline, and when our brave patients, including Kerry, began to share their stories and feelings.
“A post campaign evaluation confirmed that it was extraordinary success – beyond our wildest dreams.”
The group’s web hits rose 963 per cent thanks to Kerry.
From 2010 to 2015, almost 1,000 more people were diagnosed by their GP or via the two-week wait.
For more information about Pancreatic cancer, visit pancreaticcanceraction.org.
If you are worried about symptoms, contact your doctor or phone 111.