A CANCER survivor will walk just under three miles to raise money for the charity Pancreatic Cancer UK after he survived pancreatic cancer thanks to an early diagnosis.

Iain Rowland, 76, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in spring 2003 and three weeks later, he received the only potentially curative treatment surgery to remove the tumour.

Iain is now cancer free and is taking part in The Big Step Forward in support of the 80 per cent of pancreatic cancer patients who are diagnosed too late for lifesaving treatment, like his colleague who sadly died earlier this year.

On Saturday, July 16 Iain will walk from Misterton, Somerset, to Mosterton, Dorset in support of Pancreatic Cancer UK, which is dedicated to funding ground-breaking research and to being here for people affected by the disease and their loved ones through its Support Line, which is staffed by specialist nurses.

More than half of those with the disease die within three months of their diagnosis – making pancreatic cancer the deadliest common cancer.

Iain is raising money to help those who have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that are not as lucky as him, by funding support and vital research into earlier diagnosis.

In the spring of 2003, when Iain was 58, he began to feel tired and extremely cold whilst helping his late wife in the garden.

He put himself to bed, only to get up an hour later to sheets drenched in sweat. This happened again two weeks later, prompting a visit to his GP.

“He said you’re either seriously ill or there is nothing to worry about, but he said he’s going to err on the side of caution and he sent me to the hospital,” said Iain.

“Over the next couple of weeks, off I went for a CT scan and an ultrasound scan. The doctor then came in and said you’ve got a tumour on the Isle of Langerhans, which is part of the pancreas, and for us to do anything, you’ll have to undergo Whipple surgery. 

Chard & Ilminster News:

"Out came the computer and Google then and I looked it up and I thought ‘oh no’ and then I looked at the survival rates and I thought, ‘oh dear’.

Due to his doctor finding the tumour early, Iain was able to have the surgery successfully and began his road to recovery.

“As I lay on my bed, a man came in for the same procedure and on his day, he went down around 8am but came back by 12. It was too late for him to have the procedure. That was the point I realised how lucky I had been,” said Iain.

After a colleague died from pancreatic cancer just a few short months after his diagnosis earlier this year, Iain decided to start fundraising for those who have not been as fortunate as him.

The route he plans to walk is through to Mosterton, Dorset where he and his colleague played skittles.

Iain added: “Early diagnosis is imperative with this cancer. With me, they caught it just as it was poking its head up. It’s no good waiting until its head and shoulders are out. Once you’ve got to that, you’ve got serious problems.

“Often the symptoms that are presented are treated without thinking of the cause, without thinking that it could be pancreatic cancer.

“I appreciate that I was lucky. If I can give anybody a little bit of hope, that is all I want. That there can be a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival of all of the 20 most common cancers in the UK.

Despite the disease’s appallingly low survival statistics, which have remained unchanged for 50 years, pancreatic cancer receives only three per cent of the annual UK cancer research budget.

Money raised by the Big Step Forward will help to fund world-class research projects into desperately needed new treatments and earlier diagnosis. Last year, more than 1,700 people took part all across the UK raising an incredible £260,000.

Hannah Hamilton-Skerritt, senior supporter acquisition & engagement manager for Pancreatic Cancer UK said: “We are so glad that Iain’s diagnosis came early so he was eligible for Whipple surgery but unfortunately the majority of those who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are not so fortunate.

“This is why we are so enormously grateful to everyone taking part in The Big Step Forward. The money they raise will help our researchers to speed up diagnosis and develop new, more effective treatments for the deadliest common cancer.

“Every step taken by our amazing supporters will bring us a step closer to the lifesaving breakthrough that’s been so desperately needed for so long.” Ian’s fundraising page can be visited here.

Find out more about The Big Step Forward and find out how to organise your own walk at thebigstepforward.org.uk or call 020 3535 7090.