LIZ Gray is one of the lucky ones.
When she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June 2009, the mother-of-two did not expect to live to see another Christmas.
Faced with bleak statistics about the likelihood of surviving the deadly cancer – only around 18 per cent of people will live for 12 months after their diagnosis, and only four per cent after five years – Liz prepared herself and her family for the worst.
But, incredibly, three-and-a-half years later, she has beaten the odds to not only survive but also successfully fight the disease. Scans, which she underwent in June and September, showed she was clear of the cancer.
Liz, 68, said: “It feels so strange to hear that I no longer have cancer and to be able to say I don’t have cancer. I never thought I would have got to this point when I was first diagnosed. I am so incredibly lucky.”
It has been a long and difficult journey for Liz, a former IT teacher, to get to this point. She had her pancreas removed soon after her diagnosis but was devastated to learn just months later that the cancer had spread to her liver.
A course of chemotherapy did not improve her condition so she then underwent a pioneering treatment called Lutetium, in which a radioactive substance is administered to a patient intravenously.
The treatment, which she had in late 2010, was successful, halted the growth of the larger cancerous masses in her liver, and eliminated some of the smaller ones.
In April this year, she had around three quarters of her liver removed and since then she has been clear of the cancer.
Liz, of Pyotts Hill, Old Basing, said: “It’s really important to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer because generally people only get diagnosed when it is too late.”
Liz, who has been supported throughout by her husband Anthony and her sons Robert, 33 and Simon, 31, spoke to The Gazette as part of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month.
She is holding a coffee morning between 10.30am and 12.30pm on Saturday, November 24 in the Old Basing cricket club pavilion to raise funds for Pancreatic Cancer UK and NET Patient Foundation.
People are welcome to attend or they can make a donation by visiting www.just giving.com/liz-Gray-3.