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Newly Diagnosed

Guest RoseP

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My sister, 44, has just been diagnosed with stage 1/2 pancreatic cancer. I have a whole raft of emotions - I feel angry mostly, and go from deep sadness at what she leaves behind (a 10 year old daughter and a loving husband) and what she will miss, to optimism and hope. Sometimes I even feel tremendous guilt as if this shouldn't have happened to her and it should have happened to me. She is the most beautiful, loving person who has had a tough year and this has capped it all off in a brutal way.

One of the things that is also on my mind is the possibility I may develop it too...particularly when my kids are asking if it's genetic/hereditary. None of my family have a history of cancer - both my mum and dads side. My grandmother died of lung cancer at age 87 and my mum died of lung cancer but she was a chronic smoker up until her 70s. Outside of this, nothing. But I can't stop worrying and am convinced I am next or that even her children will be at risk. I can't find any information and nothing is helping me but this is giving me a huge amount of anxiety too. If her daughter gets it I won't be able to cope. I'm trying to tell myself that this is my anxious mind talking, not a rational mind....but nothing on the net is helping me and of course, I am her sibling and we share a genetic make up.

But it's not about me.

I don't know what to do, I don't know how to care for her. I can't fathom this and I am so heartbroken when she tells me she is scared and doesn't want to die. She is my best friend in the world and I don't want to lose her. Does anyone have any tips on how to care for a sibling who has pancreatic cancer? How to support them? I want to do everything I can for her. How to also deal with your own guilt, anxiety around 'I'm next' and profound sadness and sense of loss? I feel everything isn't really worth living right now.

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  • 1 month later...
PCUK Nurse Jeni

Hi Rose,

So sorry to hear the news about your sister, and the recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer at a young age.

It can be very hard to take on board such a diagnosis, and its not unusual to have a whole range of emotions which you are describing. Its difficult to be a "bystander", so to speak, and watch this happen. And of course its not fair - unfortunately, cancer is no respecter of any situation and life can seem so cruel when a person has already had plenty to deal with.

I think once you know a plan of care for your sister, things will begin to settle a little Rose. Its often the unknown and waiting for some form of "action" which causes anxiety and issues. And caring for her will be something which you will naturally do - its a case of being there to support her, and practically help her so that she isn't struggling with everyday chores while trying to recover.

In terms of the risk of pancreatic cancer, then with one family member having been diagnosed, there is no additional risk to yourself or to her child. The risk begins to be more of an issue when two or more family members, in the same bloodline, are diagnosed.

I hope this is reassuring Rose?

Please feel free to email us for more information- details in signature below.

Kind regards,


Jeni Jones

Pancreatic Cancer Specialist Nurse

Support Team

Pancreatic Cancer UK

email: nurse@pancreaticcancer.org.uk

support line: 0808 801 0707

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