The daughter of a woman who died of pancreatic cancer days after diagnosis is backing a campaign for a simple test to help treat sufferers quicker.
Jennifer Bairner, 32, was left heartbroken when her mother Fiona was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer after showing no symptoms apart from exhaustion and a loss of appetite.
Just 12 days later, her mother passed away in hospital following her diagnosis.
“It was unbelievably quick and what I think we struggled with the most was that we were trying to deal with the shock of her diagnosis and the fact she had been so brave and gone round and spoke to each of us,” Jennifer said.
It was really nice because she got the chance to say ‘I have had a great life’ and she was so calm and strong.
“I think that was what was hard. You’re trying to deal with what she is telling you and then 12 days later she’s not there anymore.”
Now Jennifer is backing Pancreatic Cancer UK’s campaign for a new test to be developed by 2024 to help doctors diagnose the deadly disease at a treatable stage.
More than 780 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in Scotland every year.
Three in four pancreatic cancer patients die within a year of diagnosis.
Vague symptoms such as back pain, indigestion and weight-loss mean pancreatic cancer often goes undetected until after it has spread, leaving patients ineligible for the only potential cure – surgery to remove their tumour.
A poll on behalf of the charity revealed that just one in ten GPs say they have the tools they need to detect pancreatic cancer, which is the deadliest common cancer, early enough for treatment to be possible.
Since her mother’s death in early 2018, Jennifer has been fundraising for the charity and completed the London Marathon on Sunday in Fiona’s memory, raising £10,000 in the process.
“She was an amazing person, and you can tell that from the amount of money we’ve raised,” Jennifer says.
“It’s not really down to me or anyone else, it is down to my mum. She was so kind and caring and had so much time for people.”
Diana Jupp, CEO of Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “For too long pancreatic cancer has been able to silently go undetected, devastating families.
“Thousands of patients a year, still reeling from hearing the word cancer, are told it’s too late, that nothing can be done for them. That has to stop.
“We have to give doctors the tools they need to detect the warning signs earlier, so they can ensure those who need it, receive treatment as soon as possible.”
Jennifer says that her mum had so much to live for, and would have become a grandmother to twins this year.
She was also due to retire and go on a long-awaited trip to Australia.
“If they could have a test in place that would help early diagnosis then that would stop people going through what my family went through,” Jennifer adds.
“It would also allow them the chance to be treated sooner.”