WHEN doctors told Kim Rowan there was nothing more they could do to stop pancreatic cancer from claiming her grandmother’s life, it felt like deja vu.
Her great uncle had also been diagnosed, and died from the deadly disease.
But with 20 years between the two death sentences, the NHS worker felt frustrated that little progress had been made in treating the illness in the period between losing her loved ones.
Kim, from Southside, Edinburgh, has campaigned tirelessly since her grandmother’s death to bring more awareness of the disease.
Now she has been awarded the prestigious Purple Star award at the Scottish Parliament for the outstanding contribution she has made to ensuring the illness receives the recognition it deserves.
The 49-year-old lost her beloved grandmother, Mary Rowan, to the disease over five years ago and has worked tirelessly for Pancreatic Cancer UK since then. Kim’s great uncle William Reid also passed away 25 years ago.
She said: “I think it’s shocking that in this day and age nothing has changed and that’s why I do what I do – to make change. My Nana knew what was ahead of her when she was diagnosed but it isn’t nice to be sent home to die and to be told ‘there’s nothing we can do for you’. She managed to survive for seven months but she was only given six weeks.”
Kim said her Nana thought the end would come quickly having helped nurse William who died quickly after diagnosis.
She is now calling for a dedicated pancreatic cancer centre in Scotland similar to a pilot scheme which has been rolled out by NHS England in Birmingham.
She added: “I think we need more awareness and research.
“In Birmingham they have a fast-track system where all patients who go to their GP with similar symptoms to what my Nana had would go straight to this one centre in Birmingham and they would get all the tests done there and then.
“I definitely think we need a one centre approach in Scotland, so we have specialised people who only deal with pancreatic cancer.
“People diagnosed with pancreatic cancer would then go straight to surgery, there wouldn’t be the drawn out process that everybody has to go through.”
Kim said her Nana would have been “proud” of her award and vowed to keep up the pressure.
She said: “I dedicated it to my Nana at the Scottish Parliament because this was something she wanted me to do.”
Diana Jupp, chief executive of Pancreatic Cancer UK, said: “Kim’s passion and dedication to the cause is paramount in ensuring pancreatic cancer continues to receive the attention it deserves and on behalf of the charity we’d like to extend huge congratulations to Kim for her ongoing commitment to pancreatic cancer and thank her for her tireless work.
“We need more people like Kim to help us tackle pancreatic cancer, as we still have much more to do for everyone affected by this disease – 80 per cent of patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage when the one potentially life-saving treatment of surgery is not possible.”