Frank McGarvey's daughter says he 'died in pain' after 'forgotten cancer' diagnosis

The Celtic and St Mirren legend passed away on New Year's Day last year from pancreatic cancer.

Frank McGarvey’s daughter calls for pancreatic cancer awareness after dad ‘died in pain’ SNS Group

The daughter of Scottish football legend Frank McGarvey is raising awareness of the “forgotten cancer” her father was diagnosed with.

The former Celtic and St Mirren hero died of pancreatic cancer aged 66 on January 1, 2023.

His daughter, Jenny Kane, ahead of what would have been his 68th birthday on Sunday, March 17, has teamed up with Pancreatic Cancer Action Scotland to raise awareness of the disease.

The former Scotland cap began feeling unwell in spring 2022 with chest pains that radiated through to his back, but he dismissed this as linked to a knock he had received from a car door.

His daughter said the form of cancer feels like a “forgotten” one, and that her dad “died in pain”.

She said: “Dad went to the doctors five or six times in spring 2022 and was misdiagnosed.

“One night he phoned 999 as he was experiencing chest pain. I was repeatedly calling and emailing his GP surgery to try and get some answers.” 

He was sent for a chest X-ray in September 2022, but nothing was found as his weight loss continued, and his family became very concerned.  

The former Scotland cap began feeling unwell in spring 2022, said his daughter Jenny.Supplied

She added: “Dad never saw the same doctor consistently. He saw different locums and part-time GPs, so no-one was tracking how ill he was getting.

“As a former footballer, dad had a high pain threshold, but he was in agony.

“The doctors were giving him painkillers and indigestion medication which weren’t helping. It felt like no one was looking at the bigger picture and tracking how much weight he was losing.” 

He received a referral for a CT scan and, once completed, received a call from the doctor to inform him that he had pancreatic cancer. 

Jenny added: “I had never heard of pancreatic cancer before, but I knew deep down there was something that wasn’t right.

“I wish I had seen one of the posts on Pancreatic Cancer Action Scotland’s social media channels listing the symptoms. I think I would have made the connection and thought of pancreatic cancer.

“It took six weeks after his diagnosis before the doctors even started talking to dad about treatment.

“Pancreatic cancer feels like the forgotten cancer.

“My dad died in pain. No-one should have to go through that suffering.” 

After Frank received the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, he was given a prescription of painkillers.Supplied

After Frank received the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, he was given a prescription of painkillers.

He was hopeful he would receive chemotherapy and try to fight the cancer but unfortunately the doctors told him things had changed and he could no longer be offered chemotherapy. 

Jenny added: “After he got the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, we received no information of what lay ahead.

“The decision not to offer chemotherapy seemed so unfair as my dad wanted treatment. He wanted to try everything.

“He was in so much pain and maybe if he had got further treatment, it might have eased his pain. I feel people like my dad should be able to make that choice themselves about whether they want chemotherapy.

“It is unfair that he never got to make that decision and it was taken out of his hands. I feel robbed that we weren’t allowed to fight just a wee bit harder.” 

The family began a rota so they could look after him at home 24/7.

The family made the difficult decision to admit him into a hospice before he passed away on the 1st of January 2023, aged 66. 

Jenny added: “Dad has eight grandchildren who miss him so much every day.

The family made the difficult decision to admit him into a hospice before he passed away last year.SNS Group

“My two older daughters, Jessica and Antonia, talk about their papa all the time. I told them he is up in heaven, and they ask me ‘maybe we can get a lift up there to see him?’. 

“To mark what would have been dad’s 68th birthday on Sunday, we are going to have a birthday cake and the kids are going to write messages on balloons and send them up to heaven.

“We are going to pay tribute to dad and how much we all miss him. 

“When dad was diagnosed, he said to me ‘Jenny, we need to tell people about this’. So, as a family we are working with Pancreatic Cancer Action Scotland to help raise awareness of pancreatic cancer.

“What we went through is not normal. It is traumatic. We want to make sure no one else has to go through what our family has.” 

Pancreatic cancer is the deadliest of all common cancers, with a 5-year survival rate of 7.3%.

Each year over 900 people in Scotland are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and around 26 people die from pancreatic cancer every day in the UK.

Pancreatic Cancer Action Scotland is dedicated to raising awareness of the disease and funding research into early detection and treatment.

To find out more about the charity’s work, visit

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