We thought mum's weight loss was down to dieting but it was cancer – it was heartbreaking

SIBLINGS have told of their heartbreak, knowing their mum might have been saved if her cancer had been found earlier.

Megan Hill-Clement and her brother Stephen, from Cardiff, lost their mother, Elaine, in 2018.

She had been losing weight and going to her GP complaining of back pain for five years, which sometimes meant she was forced to take time off work.

After years of back and forth doctors thought it might be caused by her gallbladder and booked her in for an MRI.

It was during this scan that pancreatic cancer was found, and Elaine, 61, was told she had six months to live.

Tragically, she died five months after the diagnosis – with her children left heartbroken it wasn't caught sooner.

Stephen told Wales Online: "After she was diagnosed we learnt that her pains were actually symptoms of pancreatic cancer. She must've had cancer for quite a few years before she was actually diagnosed.

"It was very challenging and upsetting but my mentality was to just get through it and get by every day. It was a bit of a whirlwind and now it's a blur."

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Megan added: "She was always complaining about her weight but she was never ever fat, she was always slim. We just thought that she was losing weight from her diet and going to Weight Watchers.

"Looking back now, the weight loss must have been down to the cancer but at the time we had no idea.

"It was a complete shock to us. Absolutely horrific. We had never heard of pancreatic cancer before that moment. I didn't understand how she could seem so well but have terminal cancer."

Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of the common cancers, with early diagnosis key.

The Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce, supported by charities such as Tenovus Cancer Care, want to highlight the six deadliest cancers – lung, liver, brain, oesophageal, pancreatic and stomach.

Judi Rhys, chief executive of Tenovus Cancer Care, told the BBC: "What we're concerned about are the extremely poor outcomes of these six cancers.

"We know in Wales around 4,400 people will have these cancers every year and unfortunately only 16 per cent of those will survive for five years, so a really, really poor outcome."

The taskforce said red flags for less survivable cancers include indigestion, abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, a loss of appetite, difficulty swallowing, a persistent cough, unexplained tiredness, headaches or nausea.

Pancreatic cancer may not have any symptoms, or they might be hard to spot.

Symptoms of pancreatic cancer can include:

  • the whites of your eyes or your skin turn yellow (jaundice), you may also have itchy skin, darker pee and paler poo than usual
  • loss of appetite or losing weight without trying to
  • feeling tired or having no energy
  • a high temperature, or feeling hot or shivery

Other symptoms can affect your digestion, such as:

  • feeling or being sick
  • diarrhoea or constipation, or other changes in your poo
  • pain at the top part of your tummy and your back, which may feel worse when you are eating or lying down and better when you lean forward
  • symptoms of indigestion, such as feeling bloated

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