Mother’s plea to spot pancreatic cancer signs

Susan Smith. Picture by Kate Shemilt
Susan Smith. Picture by Kate Shemilt

A MOTHER has called for greater prominence to be given to the risk of pancreatic cancer to young people.

Susan Smith, of Lane End Road Elmer, made the plea after her 26-year-old son Bradley passed away on November 28 last year.

“He lived life to the full,” she said. “He worked, he had two horses. He was an animal-lover and he was loved by everyone.”

Bradley went to accident and emergency at St Richard’s Hospital, in Chichester, four times last year with stomach pains.

Mrs Smith said at no point were they told he could have pancreatic cancer.

Her son was referred to a heart and lung specialist, who Mrs Smith said told them the cause of the pain could be acid and that he might have pancreatitis.

“Another three times he was admitted,” she said. “He had an MRI and a CT scan and if it had been picked up then he might still be alive.”

She said she wanted to raise awareness of the danger of the cancer to young people and encourage doctors and nurses to look for pancreatic cancer.

“Four times he went,” she said. “How could they have not found it?

In October 2012, Bradley was kicked in the stomach by a horse and he had ‘ongoing pain’, but it was bearable.

“Every time we went, every doctor, every nurse, we told them he had been kicked by a horse,” she said.”

Bradley had two brothers, aged 32 and 21.

When the pain got particularly bad, the hospital thought he might have a cyst and he had an operation at Guildford Hospital, where they found a tumour attached to a main blood vessel.

He spent eight weeks at St Wilfrid’s Hospice, which Mrs Smith described as ‘the best place on this earth’.

“I stayed with him the whole time,” she said.

“They got him out of pain. St Wilfrid’s made him as comfortable as possible.”

Pancreatic Cancer Action has been in the national news this week after a controversial advertising campaign featuring 
24-year-old Kerry Harvey, from Bognor Regis.

The nurse has told national media she does not regret fronting the campaign, which featured the slogan ‘I wish I had breast cancer’.

The campaign was meant to highlight the importance of an early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

A spokeswoman from the charity said: “Pancreatic cancer has been little known, poorly understood and chronically underfunded for decades and these are some of the reasons why survival rates have not improved in 40 years.

“All cancer is dreadful and this campaign is not suggesting that anyone’s suffering resulting from cancer is worse than another’s.

“It simply expresses the real thoughts and feelings of many pancreatic cancer patients and is something we hear time and time again.

“Every cancer patient deserves the best chance of survival.

“Sadly, with only a three per cent chance of survival, hope is denied for the vast majority of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

“The advertisements have successfully created awareness of pancreatic cancer among millions and helped raise some of the issues surrounding cancer in general.”