A pancreatic cancer survivor in Liverpool has taken it on this Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month by embarking on a 2 kilometre swim, just months after life-saving surgery.
Shaun Walsh was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June earlier this year after feeling tired at work, developing jaundice and a bout of persistent vomiting. A blood test by Shaun’s GP revealed something wasn’t right and he was referred for more scans, which revealed the cancer.
Surgery is the only treatment that can potentially cure pancreatic cancer, but it is complicated because of where the pancreas is, and must be done quickly before the cancer spreads. Only 10 per cent of the 10,000 people diagnosed in the UK have an operation.
Luckily, The Royal Liverpool Hospital were quick to act. Shaun had Whipple’s surgery within just two weeks of diagnosis.
“When I heard the word cancer, I thought this isn’t going to beat me. After the operation I lost nearly two stone and I couldn’t eat properly for six weeks. I’m still sore all the time and I feel like there is a rubber band around my stomach. But swimming has really helped me feel better, and most importantly, I’m still here.”
Shaun is particularly grateful to his surgeon, Mr Declan Dunne.
“Declan is like my adopted brother now; I can’t stop hugging him when I see him. He saved my life.”
Shaun with his surgeon Declan
Despite the fact he is still undergoing chemotherapy, Shaun trained hard for the challenge, swimming a kilometre every other day, and has been dubbed the “Whipple Warrior”. He has also already surpassed his goal of aiming to raise £1,200 to fund vital research into the disease.
“Before all this I didn’t realise the pancreas was so important. Not enough money is going into pancreatic cancer: it’s the same as 40 years ago, it’s not being caught early enough and people aren’t getting treatment. We need more research and this this just the start of my fundraising. I’m already planning to jump out of a plane next year!”
Shaun took the plunge on Sunday 25th November at Knowsley Leisure and Cultural Park and was joined for the swim by friends, and for the final length by his six-year-old daughter, Darcey. To support Shaun’s fundraising visit his fundraising page.
Shaun getting ready for his swim!