Scottish woman told she had weeks to live survives 10 years with pancreatic cancer

Share this article
Have your say

A Scottish woman who was told to “go home and get her life in order” before being given just six weeks to live after an advanced pancreatic cancer diagnosis is still here ten years later.

Penny Munro is the face of a new campaign urging the public to sign a petition demanding governments across the UK take action to give people with the illness a fair chance of survival.

Penny Munro with her husband Andrew

Penny Munro with her husband Andrew

At present 93 per cent will die within five years of diagnosis, making pancreatic cancer eight times deadlier than other common cancers such as prostate, breast and bowel cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer UK is calling for an extra £25 million of government investment to aid research and the delivery of better, faster treatment and care.

They also want a dedicated awareness campaign to highlight symptoms of the disease.

Mrs Munro, 65, from Lanarkshire, survived both pancreatic and breast cancer.

When she first started to feel ill in 2007, Mrs Munro assumed she had picked up a bug from the school where she worked.

After a year of going back and forward to the doctor, being told she only had chest infections, Mrs Munro was finally diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given weeks to live

She said: “That day of diagnosis was the worst day of my life.

“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, Mrs Munro 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.

Mrs Munro 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.”

She added: “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.

Mrs Munro is hoping local people will support the campaign and help give everyone affected by the disease a fair chance of survival.

Despite huge progress in overall cancer survival, pancreatic cancer remains the deadliest common cancer.

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.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to improving outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients which is why we are have updated our referral guidelines to raise awareness of the potential signs and symptoms.”