Former Lanarkshire cancer patient Penny Munro is backing a new campaign demanding action to give people a fair chance to beat pancreatic cancer, ten years after defying the disease’s appalling odds of survival.
Currently 93 per cent of people will die within five years of diagnosis, making pancreatic cancer eight times deadlier than other common cancers such as prostate, breast or bowel cancer.
Now Penny, 65, is urging others to support the charity Pancreatic Cancer UK’s campaign – Demand Survival Now – by signing a petition calling on future UK Governments to produce a national plan in response to the pancreatic cancer emergency.
Penny has survived both pancreatic and breast cancer – a truly remarkable feat.
When Penny first started to feel ill in 2007 she assumed that she’d picked up a bug from the school where she worked. After a year of going back and forward to the doctor and being told she only had chest infections Penny was finally diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was told she had weeks to live.
“That day of diagnosis was the worst day of my life,” said Penny, “My oncologist said I had advanced pancreatic cancer and it was in my liver. She gave me six weeks to live and told me to go home and get my life in order.”
Ten years later, after major surgery and months of gruelling chemotherapy, Penny has defied the appalling odds and survived the disease.
She was also diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer and describes her experience as being very different to her pancreatic cancer journey.
Penny said: “My experience of being diagnosed with breast cancer was very different. With breast cancer they wrap you up in a big pink fluffy blanket and take care of you like royalty. With pancreatic cancer, it’s like a kick in the teeth.
“There was such a difference between how the news was delivered and how you’re treated. My breast cancer was one of the worst, most aggressive kinds you can have but they still gave me hope.
“Ten years after my pancreatic cancer diagnosis I’m still here, which I’m very thankful for. I’m very passionate about sharing my story now that I’ve reached this amazing milestone. There aren’t that many of us so I need to speak out.”
Around 780 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in Scotland every year (3). Penny is hoping local people will support the campaign and help give everyone affected by the disease a fair chance of survival.
Currently three in four people with pancreatic cancer die within a month of diagnosis (4).
Survival has not improved for more than 50 years and the UK is falling further behind the rest of Europe.
No screening or early detection tests exist for pancreatic cancer and its vague symptoms - such as back pain, indigestion and weight-loss - mean the disease often goes undetected until after it has spread to other parts of the body.
Pancreatic Cancer UK wants to see the introduction of a national optimal pathway within the NHS to ensure that all pancreatic cancer patients across the UK receive the best standard of treatment and care, as fast as possible.
Demand survival for people with pancreatic cancer by signing the petition: www.demandsurvivalnow.org.uk.