Can­cer hope

Rutherglen Reformer - - Front Page - Dou­glas Dickie

A Cam­bus­lang woman is call­ing for more aware­ness of pan­cre­atic can­cer as the an­niver­sary of her mum’s death ap­proaches.

Deb­bie Baker was left dev­as­tated when her mum, Mar­garet Dou­glas, passed away from the dis­ease on March 21, 2015.

Find­ing out a loved one has can­cer is al­ways a hor­rific mo­ment.

But for Deb­bie Baker, it was also an ex­tremely con­fus­ing one.

She was sat in a doc­tors of­fi­cer with her mother, Mar­garet Dou­glas, when they found out Mar­garet was suf­fer­ing from pan­cre­atic can­cer.

Stunned, Mar­garet left the room while Deb­bie waited be­hind to hear the prog­no­sis.

But, as well as all the im­ages and po­ten­tial out­comes go­ing through her mind, there was one ques­tion that stood out: “what is the pan­creas?”

Forty-year-old Deb­bie, who is now a cam­paigner for pan­cre­atic can­cer aware­ness, ad­mits now she had no idea what her mum was fac­ing, and she reck­ons that’s one of the rea­sons sta­tis­tics for pan­cre­atic can­cer have re­mained static for the past 40 years.

“Be­fore my mum had pan­cre­atic can­cer I didn’t even know what it was,” she says. “Or even where it was on the body.

“When we were told, mum left the room and the doc­tor told me she would be lucky to have four to six months. “Af­ter that, we just wanted her to have the best life pos­si­ble.

“She never once com­plained. She knew it was se­ri­ous, but she al­ways said she wanted to ‘kick its a***’.”

Mar­garet was di­ag­nosed in Fe­bru­ary, 2014.

She un­der­went sev­eral months of treat­ment, and her tu­mour ac­tu­ally shrunk to a small enough size to be op­er­ated on.

Af­ter go­ing through a process known as Whip­ple pro­ce­dure in Fe­bru­ary 2015, hopes were high she may yet beat the hor­rific dis­ease.

But af­ter four weeks in Glas­gow’s Royal In­fir­mary, she passed away on March 21, 2015 at the age of just 66.

Deb­bie, who went to the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment last year to lobby for more sup­port, reck­ons things could have been dif­fer­ent if her mother had been di­ag­nosed ear­lier.

“The prob­lem with pan­cre­atic can­cer is, it’s very hard to di­ag­nose,” she said.

“The symp­toms can of­ten be linked to other things, and I think GP’s need to be more aware of that. “Ab­dom­i­nal pain or nau­sea, th­ese could be lots of things, but they could also be pan­cre­atic can­cer.

“My mum was los­ing five to seven pounds a week. She went from a big woman to be­ing just six and half stone. By the time she died, she weighed just four and half stones, my kids weighed more than her.

“The doc­tors just put it down to mum’s di­a­betes and they never in­ves­ti­gated any­thing else. By the time she was di­ag­nosed, it was too late.”

Mar­garet’s story is painfully fa­mil­iar to fam­i­lies all over Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang, and in­deed, the en­tire coun­try.

With the first an­niver­sary of her death al­most upon them, Deb­bie and the fam­ily are re­flect­ing on the woman they loved so much.

Al­though di­vorced, she re­mained friends with Deb­bie’s dad and was a lov­ing mother to Deb­bie and her sis­ter, Lee Dou­glas.

She was a dot­ting grand­mother to Lee’s young daugh­ter, Kara, 12, as well as Deb­bie’s four chil­dren, Yusuf, 12, Yas­mine, 11, Zach, 8, and Za­hara, 7. She also wel­comed Deb­bie’s hus­band, Mukhaled into the fam­ily as the “son she never had.”

Deb­bie said: “She worked in the Rich­mond Park laun­dry for years and then went to Cam­bus­lang Golf Club, which she ab­so­lutely loved.

“She worked all her days, ev­ery­thing she did was for other peo­ple. She was a typ­i­cal Glas­gow woman, just a bril­liant per­son. “She didn’t so­cialise much, I think that’s why she en­joyed work­ing in the golf club so much.

Plans are now in place for a per­ma­nent me­mo­rial at Cam­bus­lang Golf Club and her grand­chil­dren will re­lease bal­loons on the day it­self at her grave in West­burn Ceme­tery.

Dur­ing the Easter hol­i­days, the fam­ily will com­plete a char­ity cy­cle round Mill­port to raise funds for Pan­cre­atic Can­cer Scot­land.

Deb­bie ex­plained: “Her sis­ter, my Aunt Rose, lives on Mill­port, as does my dad, so I have lots of mem­o­ries from my child­hood of her tak­ing us there.”

Deb­bie is hop­ing to raise money for Pan­cre­atic Scot­land, which was set up by Mr Ross Carter, who per­formed Mar­garet’s Whip­ple pro­cee­dure.

The fam­ily also raised £750 for the char­ity at Mar­garet’s fu­neral.

Brace Mar­garet kept her spir­its high even through­out her treat­ment Much loved gran Mar­garet in hos­pi­tal with Deb­bie and her chil­dren (from left) Yusuf, Zach. Za­hara and Yas­mine just af­ter her di­ag­no­sis

Fam­ily love Mar­garet with her grand­daugh­ter, Zara

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