Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Britain's old men with pancreatic cancer have a champion in Maggie Watts, but one with an e-petition in dire need of 70,500 signatures

Pancreatic cancer is the fifth leading cause of death from in Britain yet with the worst survival rate of all cancers, it receives only 1% of money spent on research. Its five year survival rate of 3% hasn’t improved in over 40 years. By comparison, prostate cancer affecting old men, has a survival rate rising from 31% in 1971 to 81% today. PC  has been responsible for the death of our much loved parliamentary sketch writer, Simon Hoggart at the age of 67 and actor, Roger Lloyd-Pack at the age of 69, within weeks of one another.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014
Britain is no longer a country for an old and rare political sketch writer called Simon Hoggart who wielded a truthful, witty pen

Friday, 17 January 2014
Britain is no longer a country for and says "Goodbye" to an old many-faceted actor called Roger Lloyd-Pack who was and will forever be, Colin 'Trigger' Ball

In addition, 66 year old rock guitarist, Wilko Johnson, continues his fight against pancreatic cancer.

Friday, 12 July 2013
Britain is still a country for, but only just, and says "Happy Birthday to an old blues guitarist called Wilko Johnson

Pancreatic cancer remains the cinderella of cancers in comparison with bowel, breast and prostate. More funding and more public awareness is vital so that progress can be made in earlier detection and, ultimately, better survival rates. It is often called the 'silent killer' since many of its symptoms mirror other less critical illnesses and doctors may not recognise these early enough, resulting in lost time before diagnosis and a terminal outcome. It kills 7,900, mostly old men and women in Britain each year with 75% of cases in those aged 65 years and over.

Last year, Maggie Watts, who lost her husband to pancreatic cancer at the age of just 48 in 2009, launched a UK Government E-petition to push it further up the political agenda. The petition is a call to :

'Provide more Funding & Awareness for Pancreatic Cancer to aid long overdue progress in earlier detection and, ultimately, improved survival rates'

Maggie and her supporters need 100,000 signatures by the 8th April this year in order for these issues about pancreatic cancer to be taken up in Parliament and with 3 months to go they are still 77,000 signatures short.

Unlike Simon and Roger in their late 60's, Kevin was in his late 40's when he was struck down. He :

* as a builder, had always been fit and healthy but in 2008, after eight months of apparently unconnected symptoms : queasy stomach, severe back pain and dramatic weight loss, with his doctor thinking he had a stomach ulcer, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

* was told that the tumour was inoperable because it was wrapped around a main artery in his pancreas, the organ responsible for making hormones such as insulin, which helps keep blood sugar levels stable, and producing digestive enzymes to break down food.

* after undergoing chemotherapy was told it had failed to shrink the tumour away from the artery and that he had 6 to 18 months to live and died in December 2009 in a hospice.

Ali Stunt, founder of the charity, Pancreatic Cancer Action has said :
"Pancreatic cancer has been overlooked, almost as if it's too hard to deal with ... There's a direct correlation between those cancers where there has been significant investment in research and improved survival rates. With pancreatic cancer, five-year survival isn't even discussed, and we know 50  per cent of patients hadn't heard of pancreatic cancer before their diagnosis. Even the one-year survival rate is under 20 per cent."

Ross Carter, Consultant in Pancreatic Surgery at Glasgow Royal Infirmary has said that the main problem is late diagnosis with 80% of patients too late for surgery, the only potentially curative option as the cancer spreads or has wrapped around major blood vessels at the back of the pancreas.
"If patients complain of persistent indigestion symptoms that normally effective medication hasn't treated after a few weeks, more serious conditions need to be considered and they may need urgent investigations. This could enable them to be diagnosed more quickly - at a stage where surgery is more likely to be an option."

It is really very simple.
Lack of funding = lack of research.
Lack of research = lack of understanding of the condition.
Lack of understanding of the condition = late diagnosis.
Late diagnosis = a poor rate of survival.

It is important not to lose sight of the fact that poor diagnosis and resulting poor rates of survival affects the family, friends and colleagues of the departed. Maggie's loss and tribute to Kevin is a reminder of that :

 ' For my gorgeous husband Kevin: You stared pancreatic cancer firmly in the face and absolutely refused to succumb until it had drained every last ounce of your strength. We are proud of you. Your fight was truly inspirational and I will never cease to be amazed at how you handled the knowledge that pancreatic cancer would, in a relatively short space of time, take your life. You refused to give in and have left us with many, many good memories, particularly your "I'm Still Standing Party" held with all of our family and friends to celebrate outliving the 18 month prognosis! Sadly, the cancer took a firm hold not long after and we had to face the hardest part - letting you go. We did so in the knowledge that you would be at peace and watching over us. Life ends but love is eternal and we carry you with us, in our hearts, wherever we go. Love you and miss you every day. With love always Maggie xxx'

Maggie speaking to ITN :

So sign Maggie's petition and spread it to family, friends and colleagues though facebook, twitter and other social media to help Maggie get her 100,000 signatures :

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