Man who felt sick at work devastated to learn he’s suffering a ‘silent killer’

A man who felt sick at work was devastated to find he was suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Shaun Walsh was working on a hot day as an industrial building cladder when he realised something was wrong.

At first, he put his symptoms down to working long hours, but when his urine became discoloured and he noticed a yellow tinge to his skin, he sought medical help.

Doctors diagnosed him with the deadly disease and said he would need immediate treatment to save his life.

Shaun, from Huyton, Merseyside, says he’s lucky he noticed his symptoms when he did. He has spent the last three years cancer free.

He spoke to The Liverpool Echo to mark the start of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, hoping to warn others about the condition.

Pancreatic cancer has been dubbed a ‘hidden’ or ‘silent’ killer because it rarely presents symptoms in its early stages. It is often diagnosed late on.

Shaun, 46, said: “If you experience a few of the symptoms together like myself, go and see your GP and say: ‘I’m worried about my pancreas.'”

He became ill in May 2018. Scans and tests at Whiston Hospital near Liverpool confirmed he was suffering from the ‘hidden’ cancer.

Shaun, now a volunteer for the charity Pancreatic Cancer Action, said: “I thought I was dead when I heard [it was cancer], which is why I’m so passionate about what I do now.”

He said: “It was 11 days from my diagnosis to my operation.

“We want it to be no more than 20 days, because in [that time] the cancer is moving and growing again.”

Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all common cancers. Only around 7 per cent of those diagnosed survive more than five years.

Specialists say early diagnosis is crucial.

Shaun feared his cancer had returned when he started experiencing stomach pains six months ago, but he has undergone extensive tests and no cancerous cells have been found.

There are often no signs or symptoms of the disease in its early stages, making it hard to diagnose early.

There may be symptoms as the cancer grows, but their severity can vary.

Common symptoms include:

Tummy and back pain
Unexplained weight loss
Indigestion
Other symptoms include:

Loss of appetite
Changes in bowel habits – including steatorrhoea (pale, smelly poo that may float), diarrhoea (loose watery poo) or constipation (problems emptying your bowels)
Jaundice
Recently diagnoses diables
Problems digesting food – such as feeling full quickly when eating, bloating, burping or lots of wind
Nausea and vomiting
Difficultly swallowing