She had three small children – four, two and three months – and a long and happy future ahead of her. “Being diagnosed with cancer was a terrible shock because I was otherwise so well,” Jan says.
The truth is, while pancreatic cancer is more common in males and those over the age of 60, it is not discriminatory and it can strike at any time.
For Jan and her family, the only way to cope was to do only what was important. “If things were not important – like washing the floor – they didn’t get done.” Without much family close by, the family got on as best they could.
“Everybody says that when you hear those words that you have cancer that your life stops. And it does,” Jan explains. “Your life stops and that future that you had envisaged before you, in very small detail sometimes, is just gone. You have lost that future that you thought you were going to live.”
It’s important to remember that cancer doesn’t just affect the patient. It has a huge impact on the patient’s family as well. “Over the years I’ve met many other people who have had pancreatic cancer and I’ve seen how this disease has impacted on them and their families,” Jan says. “Many don’t survive and I feel very fortunate to be well now.”
From the time she was diagnosed, Jan wanted to find out about developments in pancreatic cancer research.
Jan is now involved with our strategic partner the GI Cancer Institute, through her participation in the Australasian Gastro-Intestinal Trials Group (AGITG) Consumer Advisory Panel. She joined because she wanted to find out more about new treatments for pancreatic cancer. “I wanted to learn about the changes that were happening, and I wanted to be able to give back to the people who I know, who I speak to, who have had a diagnosis of cancer.”