Pancreatic cancer

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  • This is the first time I have talked to anyone about my pancreatic cancer since a "Whipple" 2 years ago. I'm a 57 year old male who has no relatives and I'm quite isolated. I have never used computers much and have just got this phone a couple of months ago so I am in a "catch-22 ",an eternal circle which seems to have no end. For the last 40+years I was most often anethatised in heroin addiction until 2020 when the drug squad broke down my door and I swallowed £800 worth of heroin to stop the cops from getting it!. I woke up from a coma 2weeks later chained up in hospital (it was covid and i got put into hospital in custody)and they told me there was a problem with my pancreas. I received 5years in prison for drug supply charges where I started chemotherapy. Then after a year I had a Whipple operation which was quite an experience while being chained to a bed with only a prison guard to speak to for over a month! Then I received another year of chemotherapy which was literally "hell in a cell" as I was very ill and never left my cell for many months. I've now moved onto an open prison and am at the tail end of the sentence. I'm on a "home leave "from prison (ha! I have no home) in a hostel as I go back to jail tomorrow but I'm due (hopefully) for release in a couple of weeks. I had been given an appointment for my third scan for the cancers return but that is a job in itself! After years of addiction I have no veins left so needed to have a "pick-line "inserted for the scan then go, chained up for the scan then have the line removed and back to prison but my scan in June was cancelled. Trying to get through the prison beaurocracy is another test for the soul as nobody knows what the hell is going on! But this is a trifle compared to the future,I had a nice house with everything but lost the lot on going to prison so facing a future of cancr and homelessness with nobody and nothing is quite daunting. Some of you might be thinking "you do the crime you do the time"or "he got what he deserved "and that's fair enough but for the last 25years I'd been consuming £150 worth of heroin daily and could've been threatened with execution but would STILL have done it so that's not the point. I could've used drugs in jail as its awash with drugs but have chosen not to and I've even come off the methadone and have been clean for nearly 4years now. I came into prison weighing 6 1/2 stone, bright yellow with hepatitis C and a total mess, now I want to leave as fit and healthy as possible without an addiction. The problem is that there's zero support. My partner and 2 previous girlfriends are dead from overdoses, I have no family and all my friends where addicts or worked in the drug trade so its quute frightening. To be honest I've thought about trying to stay in jail because at least I can access treatment for the cancer but I have to face it sooner or later. I can only apologise for going on but this is the first chance I've had to say anything as in prison you just don't mention health problems to anyone in jail and ive never had a visit or even letter from anyone. I think isolation is the worst enemy, dealing with cancer with even one person to talk to would've so much easier. The prison and staff, the hospitals and everyone has tried their best but there's no help within the system.
  • Hi ZimZam,

    It’s Megan here from Macmillan’s Online Community team. I saw your post and wanted to offer some support whilst you are waiting for other group members to reply.

    I’m sorry to hear about what has brought you to join the Community. Our forums are safe and supportive spaces to chat to others, ask questions and talk openly about how you are feeling.

    Whilst I appreciate there is a lot going on with your situation, I am sure you are not alone with how you are feeling as we often hear how cancer can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation. I’d like to share the following information with you to help you find additional support with the concerns you mentioned about housing and medical care.

    The organisation Shelter have some information to help with housing when you leave prison. There is a search tool to help you find the contact information for your local council’s homeless team and further guidance on this webpage.

    I noticed you said that ‘I've thought about trying to stay in jail because at least I can access treatment for the cancer’. If you have questions about accessing cancer care, please do phone the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00 from 8am to 8pm, every day. There is also the option to send an email or live webchat during the opening hours.

    When you contact the Support Line there will be options to speak to the Information Nurse Specialists, the Information and Support advisers, and the Money and Work teams. They can provide emotional support, practical information, and financial guidance alongside offering a listening ear.

    The Prisoner Advice Service has an Advice line you can contact for specialist guidance about ongoing referrals and support for your release. You can call 020 7253 3323 and please click here to find their opening times. If you prefer to get in touch by email, there is a contact form you can fill in here.

    I hope the above information can be useful and if you need any help using the Community, please don’t hesitate to get back in touch. You can email community@macmillan.org.uk or send a private message to the Moderator account.

    Best wishes, 

    Megan
    Macmillan's Online Community team

  • Thank you very much Megan as I just read the post because i placed it(against the rules as I wasn't allowed online!) when I was out on a 3 day pass to a hostel and ive had no community access until now. I was supposed to be getting released into a hostel until I refused to get released until I had a temporary accommodation flat offer and am now in a hi-rise. The most dramatic thing is the diet and then the ability to get around but I've got to fill in lots of forms and make claims ext..I had a consultant appointment for my 6-monthly MRI scan cancelled and now all the treatment has all disappeared. I've also got someone coming in a couple of days to try and get me a microwave and some furniture ext..I've not been off the toilet for 2 days and hope to be getting registered with a doctor in a couple of weeks so it should all work itself out! When I was in jail a charity came in to talk to me about the increasing number of prisoners getting cancer inside and what would help and what problems I'd encountered so hopefully things will be changing in the future as having a "Whipple "chained to the bed or in handcuffs is not an experience anyone should have to go through. But it's OK now as it's summer and trying to do this release in the winter, cold and snow doesn't bear thinking about! So this is my 3rd day free and I'm good. It was very kind of you to reply to my post as most people don't care about us people in the prison system. I'll post again as I hope to figure out this "Internet" and hopefully make life a little easier!.....

  • The answer to my situation is to ALWAYS BE POSITIVE! Things in life have a way of working themselves out. I was a 6 1/2stone drug addict who had no thought of more than a couple of hours ahead with zero quality of life and then with pancreatic cancer when I got imprisoned a few years ago and now I statistically have a 25%chance of living beyond 2027- but am I sad or down about it??..HELL NO!, I would much rather have this quality of life for 2-5 years than drag out living anethatised in a semi coma on opiates for the next 20 years- thats not living,it's just existing! When I got imprisoned it actually did not me a HUGE favour. If I hadn't swallowed all those drugs when i got  busted and overdosed then I would never have been hospitalised and the cancer would never have been found so I would've been long dead by now! Now I can try and live whatever life is left as well as possible and maybe make a positive contribution to this world? The only regret is not seeing the light sooner. The moral of this is that there's ALWAYS more than 1 way of seeing things and it's just a better idea to look at things from the brighter side even if it looks impossible at the time. So there's hope for us all and I just want to be happy whatever the challenges are ahead...